PAU celebrates milestone as first PhD cohort graduates

The Pan African University (PAU) last month celebrated the graduation of its first batch of PhD students in what is seen as a major milestone for the institution that has overcome a number of teething problems since its establishment in 2012.

PAU is a postgraduate training and research network of university nodes in five regions, supported by the African Union.

The university awarded 14 doctoral degrees to graduands of different nationalities and African regions at a ceremony held on 29 June at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), which hosts the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI).

The 14 graduates successfully completed their PhD programmes in mathematics (computational, financial and statistics options), civil engineering, electrical engineering, and molecular biology and biotechnology.

Theirs was the third graduation ceremony for PAUSTI, with 32 others being awarded masters degrees in various fields upon completion of their two-year MSc studies at the institution.

A graduation list published by host institution JKUAT shows that among the inaugural batch, five in total, including one woman, have graduated with PhD degrees in molecular biology and biotechnology.

Another six students, including two women, graduated with doctorates in mathematics including three in the statistics option, two in the computational option and one in the financial option. Two students were awarded doctorates in civil engineering, while one received a PhD in electrical engineering-telecommunications.

The students have been enrolled at the university in a three-year programme since 2015, graduating alongside the third batch of MSc students, comprising 32 learners enrolled in 10 different programmes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

“The event marks the third graduation ceremony for JKUAT and PAUSTI, sending a clear message about the veracity of JKUAT as an effective host for the successful implementation of the African Union-led graduate training facility,” said a graduation supplement issued by the university.

“PAUSTI students have demonstrated their scholarly research and innovation prowess, winning awards and publishing in high impact journals,” it added.

Alongside the 14 PAUSTI graduands, JKUAT also graduated its own group of 55 PhD scholars, thereby contributing to Kenya’s efforts to increase its PhD-qualified lecturers, which will help meet the national requirement that all lecturers in universities attain PhDs by the end of 2019.

“It is gratifying to witness the third joint graduation of JKUAT and PAUSTI which brings much delight in our hearts [and] to release another cohort of well trained and competent graduates who are ready to drive Africa’s development agenda forward,” said Mabel Imbuga, JKUAT vice-chancellor.

Earlier in June, the PAU Institute for Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences (PAUGHSS) based at University of Yaoundé in Cameroon released 49 masters students into the job market, while in February the PAU Institute for Life and Earth Sciences (PAULESI) hosted by Nigeria’s University of Ibadan awarded masters degrees to its third cohort of 50 students drawn from across the continent.

The PAU, a continental institution of excellence supported by the African Union, awards full scholarships to all students, who are competitively selected by individual thematic institutes.

Since 2014, PAU has met with relative success in operationalising all the thematic institutes save for the Institute for Space Sciences, which will be hosted by South Africa’s Cape Peninsula University of Technology on behalf of the Southern Africa region. Uncertainty over the location and host of the campus, which delayed its establishment, was resolved in 2017.