Outgoing UTG Vice Chancellor speaks
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Professor Andreas L. Steigen, the outgoing vice-chancellor of the University of The Gambia (UTG), will wrap up his assignment next month, after a thrilling three-year service at the country’s highest institution of learning.
Prof Steigen would finally leave Banjul on October 9, with a catalogue of successes and challenges trailing his legacy. It is not yet clear who will replace the Norwegian professor, but this paper has gathered that the position is currently up for grabs.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer in his office at the UTG administrative building, yesterday, Prof Steigen declared that his achievements are unprecedented in the history of the UTG, as the institution has successfully trained at least 650 graduates in various fields of study. He disclosed that student enrollment has increased significantly from 400 to over 1,000 students in 2008.
He then pointed to recent convincing undertakings by the UTG, which added feathers to his hat. “One major achievement is the fact that many people now speak very positively about the university, which to me speaks volumes of how much the institution is appreciated by the people.
We were able to introduce bachelors in accounting through collaboration with the Gambia Treasury. In addition, we have also started a bachelor programme in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT), and we are currently running several e-learning projects in masters in information technology thanks to the collaboration of Indian universities that benefit The Gambia,” he said.
According to Professor Steigen, the introduction of the access programmes for students without the requirements is another area that has greatly registered achievements. He disclosed that last year, 80 per cent of the students doing English language in the access programme scored credits, adding that 45 per cent of those doing mathematics got credits.
“We have also changed some curricula, most notably in the field of agriculture. In this field, the change is based on the ‘back-to-the-land call’, as well as based on how farmers can own businesses when doing agriculture,” he said, adding that special programmes on banking are also being introduced after much demand from the banking industry.
Other achievements, he continued, include the recognition of a degree from The Gambia by the best universities in the world, such as Oxford, amongst others.
On the challenges, Prof Steigen bemoaned the low level of enrollment at the UTG when he took over the office three years ago, but noted that this challenge was overcome.
According to him, enrolling more young Gambians into the university was one of his major challenges, adding that non-payment of tuition fees by students was another challenge that was overcome.
“The fact that the UTG doesn’t have a premises is another challenge, but that challenge is very promising as efforts to build the campus have began,” he said.
According to the Norwegian-born professor, it is his wish for the university to have its own campus in the coming years, adding that he wishes to sharpen the profile of the university to a developmental institution that will give chances to young people as well as be sensitive to the needs of the country.
Prof Steigen told the Daily Observer that plans are in the pipeline for the introduction of a department of music, dance and drama.
He added that he will return to his former university in Norway, where he will serve as a tutor at the department of biology, as well as be involved in some projects.
Prof Andreas Steigen then praised President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, the founder and chancellor of the UTG, for creating a conducive environment for the university.
“The president was a source of inspiration in my tenure in office,” he said, while lauding the “the strong dedication” of the tutors, which have impacted on the successes of the university. The outgoing VC then expressed hope that his successor will build on his successes and strengthen the collaboration between the UTG and its partners.
Author: by Hatab Fadera