Professors from Netherlands equip UCU with student-centered learning skills

By Israel Kisakye
Professors from Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the Netherlands, have shared teaching and learning skills with their counterparts and students of Uganda Christian University’s (UCU) School of Business. 

Johan Henjik and Jaap Mannes from the School of Business, Marketing and Finance at Hanze recently introduced the strategy of student-centered learning, which aims at developing the learners’ autonomy and independence. The student-centered learning approach offers students the chance to choose what they learn and how they learn it, thereby becoming decision-makers in the learning process.

“That approach can have prolific impact on the students’ knowledge and experience,” Jaap said. “There’s a big difference between theory and practice, so there is need to close the gap.” 

Jaap, who is Hanze University’s Director of Internationalization Committee at the School of Business Marketing and Finance, added that under the approach, companies and organisations learn from the students just as the students learn from them. 

The Hanze representatives also emphasized the importance of students applying their classroom-acquired knowledge to create projects for themselves. 

Vincent Kisenyi, Dean of the School of Business, gives remarks.
Vincent Kisenyi, Dean of the School of Business, gives remarks.

Johan said that he was interested in Hanze University students interacting with those of UCU. One benefit is cultural since many of the Netherlands students “don’t know much about Africa.” 

The duos late June 2022 visit to UCU was courtesy of a partnership that the two universities signed in 2021 to support one another in research, teaching and learning. The agreement reinforces the value of both academic and cultural infusion into university teaching and learning. In mid-April 2022, UCU Vice Chancellor Aaron Mushengyezi visited Hanze University, where he interacted with some  UCU students who early this year traveled to the Dutch institution for a six-month exchange program related to the Diploma in International Marketing Management. 

Both UCU staff and students were impressed by the approach of student-centered learning and believe it will help the students connect directly with the industry. 

The Dean of the UCU Business School, Vincent Kisenyi, noted that the approach was more appropriate in the fight against unemployment among university graduates. 

“I can’t wait for us to implement it and test its efficiency,” Kisenyi said. 

Elsie Nsiyona, the Assoc. Dean of the School of Business, said she was excited about the new approach and could not wait to see the results. 

Jonathan Kivuna, a year-three student pursuing Bachelor of Business Administration, said he was already excited about the student-centered approach. 

“There is a lot of practice involved; I think it’s going to benefit students’ business projects,” Kivuna said.