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Petroleum institute receives third intake, introduces new courses

A house that

These new houses will be the living quarters for the institute’s teaching staff (Photo: Beatrice Ongode)

The Uganda Petroleum Institute Kigumba (UPIK) admitted its third intake last week, amidst a flurry of construction activity as the Masindi-based training facility seeks to create new space to accommodate its expansion plans.

This new intake of 30 students will also benefit from five new courses that have been introduced to improve the curriculum.

There has been concern about past graduates from the country’s only government-operated petroleum institute, with most of the alumni-currently numbering 88, unable to find employment in the oil and gas sector.

Despite the two-year diploma program at the institute and a further six months training in Trinidad and Tobago, the industry still perceives the graduates as unqualified because most of their training is ‘basic’ and non-petroleum specific.

The institute has therefore embarked on a strategy to strengthen its curriculum and make it more relevant to the oil industry.

“In the first intake, the curriculum used was too broad and not developed in close cooperation with the industry,” says Dr. Dick Kamugasha, UPIK’s Head of the Secretariat.

“However, in the Institutional Development Plan (2014-2019), we intend to provide petroleum engaged programs that are useful for the industry in depth,” he adds.  “This will equip the trainees with the required level of competence that is needed to handle production activities and operations.”

The new courses are in petroleum and chemical engineering technology for upstream and downstream operations.

Big plans ahead

According to Dr. Kamugasha, the institute’s development plan is being financed by the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

“UPIK is a beneficiary of the $10 million grant given to government under the Albertine Region Sustainable Development Program,” he said. “DFID on the other hand has supported the institute with purchase of workshop equipment and machinery,” he added.

Under the plan, several structures are being set up at the campus to create state-of-the-art training and living quarters for the students and instructors. Some of the instructors will also undertake an Instructor Development Program in Trinidad and Tobago.

The institute targets to pass out 224 graduates annually by 2019.

Report by Beatrice Ongode and Flavia Nalubega