Enthusiasm engulfed prospective students of the masters in Biostatistics programme as its website was being launched on Friday 18 March 2016 at the Great Hall, Chancellor College. The function whose higher proportion of participants were prospective students was chaired by the Deputy Dean of Faculty of Science, Dr. Bosco Rusuwa. In attendance were the ICT Director, Mr. Solomon Dindi, Deputy Head of Maths Department, Dr. Patrick Ali, and Coordinator of the Masters Programme, Mr. Tsirizani Kaombe. In his remarks, the Deputy Dean applauded the Maths Department and Biostatistics programme for the initiative which he said will go a long way in marketing the University of Malawi to the outside world. He pointed out that the era of distributing hard copies of the University Prospectus to members of the society is gone, the University has to move with Technology in selling out its programmes to the world. He therefore asked other Departments and programmes within the Faculty of Science to borrow a leaf from the Biostatistics programme in coming up with their websites.
The sentiments were echoed by the ICT Director, Mr. Solomon Dindi in his response to one of the questions on usefulness of a website to a postgraduate programme, who said that Chancellor College has a lot of information (such as recent Publications by Staff members, research innovations by Students, etc) that is not known to the outside world, and it is time we used available ICT Technologies to sell our University to the world. Mr Dindi observed that lack of enough information upon which outside bodies or institutions can base to assess our University ranking cost the university negatively when it comes to its ranking among the African or World Universities. He further highlighted his vision to have websites for particular Programmes, Departments, Faculties within Chancellor College in the immediate future.
The Deputy Head of Maths Department, Dr. Patrick Ali thanked the DELTAS Project for funding the website project and the Biostatistics Coordination team for working around the clock to ensure things work out to the expectation of the Department. He was happy that through this website some activities taking place within the Department, especially in the Biostatistics programme will be made readily avaiilable for the world to know. In his remarks during demonstration time on how to access information on the web page, the Programme Coordinator, Mr. Tsirizani Kaombe hinted on the fact that most University of Malawi undergraduate students do graduate without having proper information on which post graduate programme fits well for their future career. Mr Kaombe observed that due to absence of PostGraduate Career Talks initiatives in University of Malawi, most fresh graduates do not know the suitable masters programmes for their career progression as they lack details about those programmes, which is why he said the Biostatistics programme came up with an idea of developing a website.
During question time, the prospective students wanted to know about 1) Job and Career Opportunities for someone who can graduate with a Biostatistics masters degree, 2) Distinguishing factors between Biostatistics and Medical Statistics degree, 3) Determining factors for a student to delay in graduating, 4) Staff quality for the masters programme, 5) Comparativeness of the programme with those offered at other Universities. These issues were clarified by the Deputy Dean and his team at the launch and it unearthed several misconceptions prospective students have about the Masters in Biostatistics programme, vindicating the need for a website. Some wrongly felt a Biology major automatically qualifies for Masters in Biostatistics, probably because of presence of prefix Bio-, a term borrowed from Biology.
Outside Great Hall: Deputy Dean-Dr. Bosco Rusuwa (front right), Coordinator-Tsirizani Kaombe (behind Deputy Dean), ICT Director-Solomon Dindi (centre), and Deputy HoD-Dr. Patrick Ali (left) discuss further after the launch