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Elections loom over Germany-Kenya university

With elections pending in both Germany and Kenya, work to establish the Eastern African German University of Applied Sciences is continuing apace amid concerns that a regime change in either country before final agreements are in place could scupper the initiative.

KenyaOnce it opens, the Eastern African German University of Applied Sciences will teach mainly engineering and sciences programs, as well as German language to facilitate student and staff exchange. Photo: WikiCommons/KateHolt

“While it is not possible to put an exact date on when we should see the university up and running"

Working groups in both countries – which include representatives from Kenya’s Commission for University Education, the German embassy in Nairobi and DAAD – have drafted a bilateral agreement laying out how the institution will operate, as well as the two countries’ obligations in the process.

“Both panels are aware that priorities could change if new governments are elected”

The agreement has been submitted to the Kenyan government, which, along with its German counterpart, must give its sign off before universities can bid to host the institution.

At the moment, there is “tremendous goodwill” on both sides towards the project, Uwe Koppel, head of cultural affairs at the German embassy in Nairobi, told The PIE News.

“While it is not possible to put an exact date on when we should see the university up and running, the process is moving at a good pace.”

However, both working groups are apprehensive of policy or priority changes that might occur should the current administrations leave power.

Kenya will hold its general elections on August 8 this year, with Germany following in September.

“Both panels are aware that elections are coming up in both countries in August and September respectively, and aware that priorities could change if new governments are elected, they want to make sure that as much ground is covered and crucial [steps] are agreed upon in good time,” Koppel said.

Once the agreement is signed, tenders will be floated, inviting bids from both public and private Kenyan universities interested in hosting the applied sciences university. It had been decided that establishing an entirely new, standalone institution would delay the process of setting up the university, and so it will operate from an existing campus.

On the German side, a partner university will also be chosen to help with benchmarking and knowledge transfer.

The idea of establishing an institution using the German university of applied sciences model to teach students from across the Eastern Africa region was first mooted in 2015, and a declaration of intent was signed in February this year.

The Eastern African German University of Applied Sciences will teach mainly engineering and sciences programs, as well as German to facilitate student and staff exchange. Students will also have the opportunity to spend time working in industry in Germany.

“Some talented students will be benefiting from attachment opportunities in Germany, based on merit, and this will be a huge advantage to their academic wok and future careers,” Koppel said.

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