Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

AAU to launch 11 thematic research programs

The oldest and largest university in the country, Addis Ababa University (AAU), has made public its intention to launch 11 new thematic research programs aimed at addressing the challenges the country faces. The university which is currently teaching about 50 thousand students in different faculties aspires to become one of the preeminent – research universities in Africa.
Masresha Fetene (Prof.), Vice President for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies says AU will implement 70 thematic research programs of which 15 have already been completed. The additional 11 new research programs scheduled to be launched this Tuesday in the presence of research officers for universities across the country will raise the number of thematic research programs under the umbrella of AAU to 86. These 11 research programs alone will utilize the knowledge of more than 200 scholars holding second degrees and above. The grass roots community the research applies to will be considered stakeholder in the project as well as professionals and scholars. 
“What makes thematic research unique is that it is not a onetime undertaking. It is a continual process that addresses research problems that are under investigation until the problem is solved. The other important character is that it incorporates all stakeholders from bottom to top. The post graduate students who participate in the research process will specialize in the specific area and become experts in the field by the time they graduate, thereby replacing their predecessors,” argued Dr. Asfawossen Asrat, Chief Academic Officer for Research of the university.   
The Institutional Review Board of AAU School of Medicine is the first African higher academic institution to receive recognition from the Strategic Initiative for Developing Capacity in Ethical Review (SIDCER), an affiliate organization of the World Health Organization (WHO), for developing guidelines for research application, research review procedure manuals, and standard operating manuals in March 2011.
Now, the university is home to 50,000 students, of which 1,500 are PhD students, 10,000 are masters’ students while the balance goes to undergraduate programs. It has six colleges and sixteen institutions under its umbrella which holds 70 departments in the natural and social science streams. The university is currently conducting 225 graduate programs, 70 of which are PhD programs.  This makes it the largest university in Africa in terms of size.
The university also consumes the largest share of budget allotted from the government. In this budget year alone, the university has received close to 500 million birr, of which 19 million birr goes to research and development. The university research and development budget mainly comes from development partners. For instance, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) has financed 189 million birr in the past two and half year to train 4,000 PhD students in the first quarter of the ten year project agreement it has entered with AAU.
Established in 1965, AAU is ranked the 26th university by Association of African Universities last year. Though its vision is becoming the preeminent research university in Africa, AAU is currently focused on producing graduate lecturers for the newly established universities.    
The university which is engaged in the teaching, research and development; and community service in the past 62 years of its existence has 2,000 lectures under its umbrella of which 100 are professors. This alone puts AAU number one in terms of human resource among the 31 university the country has. Six percent of the total number of the university lectures came from 22 nations around the world.
The 11 thematic research programs to be launched the coming Tuesday includes food security, education quality assurance, water resource development, alternative energy sources, climate change impact and mitigation mechanism, biodiversity, and health.