Dr. Kabera Callixte,PhD.
MESSAGE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR
UTB prepares the next breed of Rwandan professionals
Since its establishment in January 2008 as Rwanda Tourism Institute, this academic pillar has metamorphosed through Rwanda Tourism University College to the current University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB) officially opened doors at the time the university received accreditation of two programs namely; Travel and Tourism Management, Hotel and Restaurant Management all leading to Bachelor’s degree. Opening the university came in to squarely address challenges related to professionalism in the hospitality sector. The country was attracting a large number of tourists yet there were no corresponding hospitality skills to enrich the visitors’ experience.Different programs were initiated in pyramidal form; short-term certificate programs, diploma and bachelor’s degree programs.In 2009, UTB introduced two more programs specifically; Business Information Technology and Airline Courses under International Air Transport Association (IATA).UTB opened a second campus in January 2010 in Rubavu district to deliver offered training to the tourist attraction hub.
EXPANSION AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
UTB started with 11 staff, but the number has since grown to 107 staff currently while the student population is currently more than 6,500 at both Rubavu and Kigali campuses.UTB started construction of own structures in 2018 where the Sonatubes branch will be relocated hopefully towards the end of November 2019. UTB is also putting up new buildings in Gisenyi to be ready by August 2019.
PHILOSOPHY OF MAKING THE DIFFERENCE
The philosophy of “Making the Difference” has been driving UTB policies and operations from the start. The introduction of new unique programs; Hospitality and Tourism ushered in a big difference in the academic landscape of Rwanda. Not only did UTB seek to bring together hospitality and tourism as business-related studies, it also introduced IT to connect hospitality and tourism in line with current technologies where different tourism activities and packages are digitized.We saw that our students needed technology skills and we brought in Business and Information Technology (BIT) department. B&IT has substantially grown, introducing a number of international professional courses such as CNNA, International Computer Driving License (ICDL), Certports certification and so many partnerships related to developing a student as fully knowledgeable and skilled professional that mingles well in and meets labour market needs.
The university started in 2006 offering vocational training, short courses in the area of hospitality and tourism. In 2007, the university established that there was a need not only to provide training for short courses but also to train at degree level.At the time, UTB started to offer bachelor degree programs with courses basically focusing on hospitality and tourism.In 2009 and 2012, UTB came up with new creative programs that are responsive to the labor market and requirements of the industry. As Rwanda, evolved, the university also diversified to offer all programs for quality skills needed in the hospitality sub sector. This has been guided by the university’s philosophy of Making the Difference evidenced through teaching methodology, industrial attachment, entrepreneurship and Innovation enhancement among others.Students at UTB conduct industrial attachment beginning with three months at the end of the second year to get familiar with what is happening in the industry and three months towards the end of third year. This is our uniqueness because we want to prepare our students with what is required in the world of work. Entrepreneurship is given a high-table position at UTB, producing graduates capable of starting own businesses which has seen most of our students start their own firms fully registered with Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
In addition, UTB puts more emphasis on communication and ICT skills which are seen as drivers in enhancing competence. During the 7th graduation, for the first time in the history of tertiary education, all UTB graduates will receive their degrees accompanied by their ICDL Certificates and English language proficiency certificates
UTB ALUMNI IN THE LABOUR MARKET
The philosophy of building competence, industrial attachment, imparting entrepreneurship skills, imparting students with international certification in ICT and communication skills generates a very positive perception from the industry and public. This is seen through the fact that 99% of graduates at UTB from certificate, diploma levels are employed or have started own businesses. Generally, 85% of graduates from degree programs are employed before completing courses.In 2013 we started an Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center where our students are nurtured and mentored in starting own businesses.Final year bachelors’ students are required to present their own business plans which are reviewed by experts, university lecturers and partners in the industry. This makes UTB a great nurturer of entrepreneurship skills. Two of the top ten tour companies in Rwanda were started by UTB alumni. UTB has been voted as the best institution for the last two years offering professional and academic courses in the area of IT not only in Rwanda but also in the East and Southern Africa with different accolades including ICDL.The university has improved visibility through internal and external processes where all databases are digitally recorded from entry point until the graduation of the student at all its campuses.Courses can be accessed online, and plans to start online distance learning (ODL) next year are in place. UTB hosted Youth Connect twice in the last two years to share experiences based on ICT development.
CONTRIBUTION TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES
The university is preparing to introduce masters programs as soon as we relocate to our new campus in the areas of; Transport and Logistics Management, Eco-tourism and Nature Conservation, Tourism planning & Management, Masters in Hospitality Management, Masters of Science in Information System Development and Masters of Science in E-Business and Innovation.
PARTICIPATION IN RESEARCH, CONSULTANCY AND INFORMING POLICY
UTB has committed resources and efforts to research development. It has its own scientific journal which is published twice a year, owns a quarterly magazine bringing on board all of its activities and publishes in scientific journal at national level.
Annually, UTB hosts an international research conference in Kigali, participates in international research conferences and present their research papers in defferent international referral journals and builds the spirit of making regular publications among lecturers. Research is dynamic and mandatory to the extent that in appraisal of academic staff research occupies a big portion during assessments.UTB is connected to the rest of the academic world and a member of international academic research boards and international professional boards. UTB is a member of; Inter-University Council for East Africa, Hospitality and Tourism Educators Association, International Association of Hospitality Schools, Association of Tourism Education and Research( ATLAS).
VISIT TO CHINA
UTB senior management in September 2018, visited five universities in China, including Yincheng University of Applied Sciences and Technology. This triggered an exchange of visits where the latter also came to Rwanda to visit UTB in December 2018. The exchange of visits was an opportunity for discussions aimed at strengthening academic programs and financing.A memorandum of understanding through which Yincheng University will buy shares in UTB and inject additional investments especially in infrastructure development is in the final stages.
UTB enjoys the conducive working environment in close cooperation with Higher Education Council under the Ministry of Education. The university is also grateful for the good working relationship with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in terms of developing graduates who are capable of responding to the needs of the labor market.UTB also closely works with WDA to develop vocational courses. We are very thankful to the government but we still need more. We would wish as approved and accredited institution of higher learning to receive students under the government loan scheme as we offer unique programs needed by the government and the industry, releasing graduates who can support specific sectors.
MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC
UTB is the University of Choice. This is based on what the institution has done so far in the 11 years of existence. We don’t create job seekers. We release graduates who can create their own businesses. We graduate good citizens who can work for the industry and attract appreciation.
Parents and sponsors should send their children so that we prepare them for a bright future through honing their skills.