A Benchmarking Study of Selected ASET Oriented Universities in Africa and China


University of Dar Es Salaam

Historical Background

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) is a public University mainly financed by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. It started in 1961, as the University College -Dar es Salaam, and granted special relationship with the University of London to offer LLB degree with 13 students. It later became a Constituent College of the then University of East Africa in 1963.

In July 1970, The University of Dar es Salaam was formerly established by Act of Parliament No. 12 of 1970. By this time UDSM had six academic units, the Faculties of Law, Arts and Social Sciences, Science, Medicine, Agriculture, and the Institute of Kiswahili Research. It was mandated to provide essential academic output from training, research and public service/consultancy. A lot more units which were to make UDSM really comprehensive in creation and transmission of all-rounded education were established in the decades that followed (see Appendices 1&2).

Role of UDSM in Human Resource Development in Tazania

For more than the first 20 years of the independence of Tanzania (1961 to early 1980’s), UDSM virtually remained as the only University in the country. Consequently it was responsible for training nearly all the individuals who were critically needed in steering the development agenda in both the public and the private sector. Thus for a long time (and till today), the majority of the government bureaucrats (ministers, permanent secretaries, members of parliament) and chief executives in government agencies and Institutions had their training at the University of Dar es Salaam. Programmes were developed that had direct bearing on the required competencies in running these offices. It was thus normal, and actually expected, that upon completion of studies, the government made placement for each individual graduate on a particular job which invariably matched the course studied. At this time, the University budget was almost entirely met by the government and as a result, the number of those who could access the University education was relatively very small compared to the demand.

Institutional Transformation Programme 1994

Since the early 1980’s the government decided to open up the provision of university education to more Institutions. Two new public Universities came into being, and the private sector was also invited to join the government in opening up new Institutions of higher learning to ease the number of those who could not go to the public universities but needed the training. Though for some time the UDSM remained the largest University in the country, the emergence of other Universities, compelled it to re-examine its role in the society, both nationally and regionally. Accordingly, since 1994 the UDSM formulated a well articulated and comprehensive programme, popularly known as the Institutional Transformation Programme (ITP) which focused on building a new identity with its own characteristics in the effort to achieve and maintain reputable regional and international positions in terms of the relevance and quality of its prime outputs. Through this programme, many of the University’s operations have been radically transformed. The ITP rallied all the University programs, activities, and resources into an institutional wide focus, where all areas necessary for holistic development of a higher learning institution were attended to. The areas included, teaching and learning, research, public service, quality assurance, human resource and infrastructure capacity building, cross cutting issues of HIV/AIDS and gender mainstreaming, etc. ITP philosophy and outputs attracted a number of development partners who partnered with UDSM in garnering the envisaged benefits of the programme. These included NORAD, Sida, DANIDA, Rockefeller, Carnegie, VRIL, NUFFIC, FINNIDA, etc. and more recently the World Bank. The transformation of the UDSM through ITP has been tremendous and was articulated well during the 50th anniversary in 2011 where the University and its units took time to take stock of its past, present and future outlook. A number of reports clearly enumerate and evaluate these achievements.

Current Status of the UDSM

UDSM is, by and large, still the leading University in Tanzania in terms of repute and demand. It has the largest pool of professors and PhDs, the highest enrolment of postgraduate students, and in fact, is a major source of the workforce for the other Universities in the country. It has 2 constituent colleges, 5 campus colleges, 4 Schools, 5 Institutes, and a workforce of over 2,200 employees (see Table 1 for details). Even with its meagre research funds it is still able to produce more than 300 peer reviewed publications per year, this number rising to over 700 when dissertations, theses, and conference papers are included. In 2013 it graduated 6,044 students at undergraduate level, 40% (2,386) being female, and, 1,274 postgraduate students at postgraduate levels (42 at PhD, 1065 at Masters, and 167 at Postgraduate Diploma).

UDSM academics are still regularly called upon to participate in formulating policies and guidelines that are critical in paving strategies for the achievement of important national and regional goals, e.g., Millennium development goals, Tanzania Vision 2025, and more recently the Big Results Now project. They are widely represented in many organizations’ Boards as non-executive directors and committee members having been invited to participate due to their expertise in their areas of specialities.

UDSM academics have also regularly been appointed to lead in government related positions. At the moment for example, UDSM academic staff are found at the Ministry of Finance (Permanent Secretary [PS], Deputy Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Education (PS, Commissioner of Education, Director of Higher Education; Planning Commission (Director, Deputy Director), Central Bank of Tanzania (Governor, Deputy Governor), Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Education, Water and Irrigation, Energy and Minerals, etc). UDSM also boasts of having graduated two of the current presidents in the Lake Region (Tanzania and Uganda) as well as the late President of South Sudan, Dr. John Garang.

Future Outlook of the UDSM

As mentioned above, the UDSM celebrated its Golden Anniversary in October, 2011 whereby it was noted that for over fifty years the University played a significant role in producing knowledge and educating generations of men and women from the African continent and beyond. The occasion of the 50th anniversary provided an opportunity for the University to take stock of its past efforts and seriously reflect on its future direction and aspirations. During the celebrations, the University community, alumni and stakeholders also reflected on the future of the University. These deliberations led to the drafting of the UDSM Vision 2061 document which coherently communicates the future that the UDSM Management and staff are set to take. This is briefly explained below:

The new UDSM vision (UDSM Vision 2061) states .. “A leading Centre of Intellectual Wealth spearheading the quest for sustainable and inclusive development”

The UDSM mission is stated as …” To advance the economic, social and technological development of Tanzania and beyond through excellent teaching, research and public service using talented and motivated staff and students.”

The core functions of UDSM as reflected in the above mission statement are three:

In teaching and learning or Training, the University will in the coming years and decades prioritize postgraduate training. This will see a major transformation to a renowned graduate university with befitting programmes and learning environment. Particularly notable is the University desire to design more taught PhD programmes to complement the traditional PhD by thesis programmes. Taught PhDs which combines coursework and dissertation are expected to increase the throughput of the badly needed PhDs in different sectors of the economy, especially in the many new Universities recently established in the country. On the other hand Undergraduate training will be consolidated by assuring quality and relevance of programmes offered. The industry will be engaged to help the University to align the competencies and knowledge of our graduates with the needs in the market.

In research, the UDSM is envisioned to be a place of conducting interdisciplinary, multi/trans-disciplinary research by scholars, namely academic staff and students, through research institutes/centres that are formed by different research groups from diverse university departments or other institutions working on broadly defined research themes and/or in partnership with the private industry.

Knowledge exchange will be another aspect emphasized since this links the University in a very practical manner with the industry. Knowledge exchange takes place in different forms including dissemination of research findings to inform policy makers and practitioners, and commercialization of innovations, technologies and prototypes developed by researchers.

Key Pillars of the Vision 2061. These are areas in which the University, working closely with stakeholders, will focus her investment efforts and resources in order to gradually achieve the vision and thereby enable the University to effectively advance the technological, economic and social development of Africa through responsive premier training, research and public service. These are:

Inspired staff and students: High quality and progressive human resource is critical in any institutional development, this being for both Academic and Administrative staff. This will mean a refocusing in the way of staff recruitment, staff development, staff promotion, gender equality consideration in recruitment, etc in such a way that will enhance motivation of staff and their effectiveness in achieving common University objectives. Of equal emphasis, is the welfare of students, that is, their general-state of well-being, for example their good health stability, comfort, prosperity, as well as a conducive environment for them to pursue their studies. The University has crafted modalities of achieving this desire and is reflected in its vision 2061 and the other strategic plan documents.

Visionary leadership. Visionary leadership is about setting the direction and ensuring that people, resources and processes are marshaled towards achieving the milestones set for realizing the Vision. The University shall continue to reform its governance structures and systems, ensure a legal framework that promotes institutional autonomy, flexibility and responsiveness; promote coordinated decentralization of decision making in order to enhance ethics, creative initiative, efficiency and effectiveness throughout the system, and place more responsibility/accountability on academic units; secure the application of good governance principles; ensure availability of appropriate competencies/expertise in the governance organs, management and administrative structures; ensure efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and optimize the productivity and effectiveness of human resources for achieving the core mission and support activities.

Sustainable resource mobilization. In order to enhance competitiveness, UDSM will require radical improvements to ensure availability of adequate, modern and well maintained teaching and learning infrastructure, facilities and financial resources. As a result of the increase in other public universities as has been pointed out earlier, government funding to UDSM relative to the needs gradually decreased. This led to over-crowded facilities, inadequate library resources and a high student-staff ratio that may affect the quality of teaching and research. Therefore, there is a need for the University to diversify its funding sources including strengthening its fundraising efforts to obtain additional income to adequately finance, expansion of its facilities and other activities. In the next 50 years, the University shall diversify its revenue base by engaging in income generating activities through optimal utilisation of existing physical and human resources.

Plans to Regain Comprehensiveness in Key Disciplines

As Appendix 1 shows, the UDSM has at some moments “gave birth” to three other public Universities. Three colleges, namely Architectural and Land studies, Medicine and Health Sciences, and that of Agriculture were at various points in time hived off and became independent full-fledged Universities. However due to the critical role of these three areas in the development of the country, the UDSM stakeholders have expressed the need to re-establish Programmes in these three areas and thus regain its previous comprehensive relevance to the society in which it serves.

Other Facts About the UDSM

For other Facts about the UDSM, please see Appendix 1 (historical growth in terms of units, and Appendix 2 (current units and structure of the UDSM).