Ethiopian Professors’ Council Conference Holds in AAU

The second Ethiopian Professors’ Council (EPC) conference held in Addis Ababa University (AAU) in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE) in Nelson Mandela and FBE halls from 22-23 of January 2021.

The conference mainly focused on what scholars could contribute in achieving Science and Higher Education goals targeted to academic affairs, research and technology transfer, scientific culture development and community engagement issues, leadership responsibilities, globalization and wealth creating mechanisms.

H.E. Sahle Work Zewde, President of the FDRE and Patron of EPC, noted on her virtual participation of the conference that civic and professional associations have to engage in continental and worldwide coordinated efforts to alleviate social problems.  Higher education institutions and their scholars’ roles are basic in doing wealth creative research, technology transfer, balancing information for country peace and security, by conducting the right scientific research and publishing in internationally reputed journals, she added.

Mrs. Adanech Abebe, Vice Mayor of Addis Ababa City Administration, stated on the opening that the council is hoped to coordinate professional experiences to fill gaps in different social and economic fields to achieve the ten years strategic plan of the country, applying direct and open involvements of adept professionals.

Professor Tassew Weldehanna, President of Addis Ababa University, briefed the profile of the University focusing on current features and success stories as well as what its status will be the next ten years based on the application of institutionally adopted strategic plan.

AAU is a pioneer Higher Education Institute in the country, established in 1950, started function with 33 students and has graduated over 232,000 students since establishment, Prof Tassew mentioned.

According to Prof Tassew, AAU is currently led by a president and four Vice Presidents; has administrative and academic staffs; close to 35,000 students have registered in the 2020/21 academic year; the academic staff considered by degree level (MA/MSc and above comprises 83.1%) and by academic rank (lecturer and above is 82.6%).

As Prof Tassew mentioned, AAU is a member of various networks across the world: African Research University Alliance (ARUA), Association of African Universities (AAU), Global Academy of Liberal Arts, Africa UNInet, Talories Network and others. It ranks first among Ethiopian universities, second from East African, tenth from African best universities and 616th among Global best universities, he added.

AAU has about 13 centres of Excellence, such as African Water Management, African Railway, Innovative Drug Development and Therapeutic Trials for Africa, Teacher Education, ARUA in good governance,  Institute for Peace and Security Studies,  Institute of Biotechnology, Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Water and Land Resources Centre, Horn of Africa Regional Environmental Center and Networks, etc.

In relation to managing research data age, Prof Tassew stated that AAU has been engaged in publishing in globally high reputable journals, subscribed more than 10,000 journal titles, as well as local journals (25 hosted), application of Anti-Plagiarism policy and software (URKUND) as of March 2020.

Prof Tassew also detailed that AAU has flourished Digital Library Access with more than 240,000 e-books and 23,000 Theses and Dissertations, and Automation services like Research Grant and Publication Incentive, Integrated Financial Management Information System, Human Resource, Registration and Digital ID card for Staff and Students, Library and Hospital Services.

“AAU is working hard to increase quality of education, strict implementation of Student and staff evaluation, focus to equip graduates not only on theory but also practically and soft skills, engage students in extra curricula activities, introduce Graduate Admission Test (GAT) and Undergraduate Admission Test (UGAT), engage staff both in teaching and problem solving research for scholarly community engagement, enforce MA/MSc students and PhD candidates to publish at least one and two articles respectively before defence, etc.” Prof Tassew said.

Professor Tassew stated that the new ten years strategic plan is designed to guide AAU towards world Class University, to be one among the best Regional Universities, and the best university in East Africa for the coming 5-10 years.

AAU’s attractive brand, better visibility and good reputation/image/ especially in research, 10th ranking from African top universities, being member of several academic and research networks, have museums, herbariums, research already adopted as a culture, are enabling strengths and opportunities to achieve the strategic plan, Prof Tassew mentioned.

On the other hand, inability to use AAU Alumni, poor recreational services for staff and students, old labs, buildings and facilities, poor educational background of students and lower readiness, lack of autonomy (student admission) and interventions, restrictive regulations (finance, procurement, salary scale, etc.) are weakness and threats hindering the University, according to Professor Tassew Weldehanna final remarks.

By: Abraham Girmay

Photo: Fikremariam Beyene