In response to concerns of AAU member institutions on the continuous graduation of “job-unready” students from African Universities, the AAU Graduate Internship programme was kick-started to equip students with critical skills needed for the job market. Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the internship programme is currently in its second year of implementation and is open to university students in various fields of study in all AAU member institutions.
Why the AAU Graduate Internship Programme is important
- Employers increasingly want to recruit experienced graduates. It has thus become cardinal for students to be offered internship opportunities to learn practical skills whilst still in school
- Internship programmes go a long way in developing students’ skills. Students who have gone through internship programmes gain confidence and build the necessary work habits
- Through an internship programme, students get the opportunity to apply theories learnt in the classroom to a practical field.
- Internship programmes provide a useful feedback channel towards strengthening university academic programmes.
Achievements to date
In 2014, forty-nine (49) awardees were sponsored to undertake 12 – 24 weeks’ practical training before graduating from their institutions. Female students formed 33% of the total whilst the remaining were males. Eighty percent (80%) of the awardees were pursuing post graduate programs with 4% pursuing Bachelor degrees and 16% PhD courses. The 2014 grant awards were won by students from 20 institutions in 10 African countries, namely: Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Cote d’Ivoire Central African Republic; Ghana; Nigeria; Senegal, South Africa; Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Grants for 2015, were won by 50 beneficiaries from 24 institutions in 12 African countries, namely: Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The 2015 edition of the internship programme covers a 12-weeks duration. Nineteen (19) of the beneficiaries, representing 26% were females, with the programmes of study by beneficiaries including Economics, Business Administration, Human Resource Management, Development Studies, Chemical Engineering, Medical Biology and Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Information Studies and Applied Mathematics.
What the beneficiaries are saying
The feedback from the 2014 beneficiaries has been very encouraging. Feedback was also sought from the host institutions and very positive responses and recommendations were received by the AAU Secretariat. Some of the feedback are listed below:
- The initiative is good. AAU should consider sponsoring many more students and also assist students with their theses work as a follow up to finish their research – Limbe Urban Council Credit Union (Cameroon)
- It is a good programme, and therefore the scope should be expanded to cover more areas – WillWay Africa, Accra (Ghana)
- I recommend that it should be a regular yearly programme to enable other students to also benefit – Department of Physics, KNUST (Ghana)
- I recommend that the programme should be run closer to the fiscal year where interns would have the opportunity of being employed – Department of Community Development, Koforidua (Ghana)
- Consider initiating inter-institutional exchange programmes – Ministry of Local Government, Kampala (Uganda)
- AAU could support the host institute for better performance – National Research Institute for Chemical Technology, Zaria (Nigeria)
How to participate in the AAU Graduate Internship
Students from AAU member institutions are invited to apply when we issue calls for application. Please follow the AAU Social Media Platforms (FaceBook, AAU Blog and Twitter) and keep checking our website for Latest news and Announcements for open Graduate Internship Calls.
The AAU Secretariat is grateful to SIDA for funding support towards the Graduate Internship Programme. AAU is also grateful to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada that funded the SHESRA (Strengthening Higher Education Stakeholder Relations in Africa) project from 2010 to 2013 – it was through the SHESRA project that graduate unemployment was identified as an emerging security concern in Africa.
Contributed by Mr Ransford Bekoe – AAU