‘Innovative’ university expands programmes, student support

Nine months after its inauguration by Senegal’s President Macky Sall, the University Amadou Mahtar Mbow (UAM) in Diamniadio is expanding its education and research programmes, and planning an innovatory student support system.

UAM, the second university in Dakar and its surrounding area, is introducing, from the new academic year, three extra education and research units – in economics and business management; digital and audiovisual communication technologies; and advanced sciences and technologies, reported Le Soleil.

Professor Ibrahima Cissé, the university’s director, said the cost of the project would be met by the state, following the demand for expansion of the UAM from the ministry of higher education, research and innovation.

Cissé said the expansion was responding to the growing demands of increasing numbers of students in the country’s public universities.

The new units would relieve the state in the placement of new students, and contribute to Senegal’s development. He believed the university’s programme constituted a major innovation founded on the challenges of digital technology, reported Le Soleil.

“We are aware that the principal challenges for development in the coming years depend on the university. For that, we need a strong university, true to its mission of transmitting knowledge and open to the realities of the present,” Le Soleil reported him saying.

UAM has the capacity to educate 4,500 students, and a social campus with nearly 5,000 beds. Inaugurated in December 2022, the university already caters for nearly 1,500 students, and with the new units will soon add another 1,500 school-leavers, reported Le Soleil.

Student support

Meanwhile, Moussa Hamady Sarr, UAM’s director of the regional student assistance office CROUS (Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires), explained in an interview with Le Soleil plans to introduce a student support system based on the slogan ‘Innovation at the service of the social’.

Sarr said UAM was the first university in the country with so many amenities. “We don’t believe we must limit ourselves to doing what is done elsewhere. With a young management team, we must have a special style,” he said.

He said they must first develop new responses to new needs. He told Le Soleil about some of the institution’s achievements for far.

These include an integrated system of informatics, including campus security; when completed, nobody will be able to enter the campus without their student, staff or security badge. Also, students will be able to digitise all university services.

With the support of the state and a private partner, the university will be equipped with an unprecedented 50+ gigabytes on campus. UAM did not want to depend only on state funds – “the state can’t do everything” – but also develop supporting partnerships.

Living conditions for students are well organised, with more than adequate accommodation, canteen places and up-to-date medical services, including the first polyclinic on a university campus. There are plans for a sports complex with facilities for football, basketball, handball and athletics, as well as a gymnastics coach and equipment already in place.

Student participation is a key part of strategy, including avoidance of violence on campus, with student representation on the housing committee, and at regular meetings to assess quality and quantity of meals – “even discussing the menus”.

On finance, the CROUS budget is XOF2 billion (about US$3,315,000) – “maybe not enough” – with concerns about good maintenance of buildings, of which students must be made aware.

In 2026, UAM will host the Youth Olympics, the first time in Sub-Saharan Africa – “we must face up to this challenge” – and the government will surely help with problems, Sarr said. — Compiled by Jane Marshall.

This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.