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Want to study business? Think Strathmore

BY WAGA ODONGO

I’ll say it as it is – Strathmore is probably the best university in the country. As a school, what they do well, they do better than anyone else. And what they do well is information technology and business.

Let us put aside what they teach for a while: what is the university like?

Floor to ceiling glass panels are a recurring theme in several buildings. So much work has been put into the architecture of the place, it is a shame to learn that there are no architectural programmes.

Strathmore probably does not need an environmental club because the school is aggressively wedded to environmental ideals. It wears its green credentials on its sleeves.

There are solar panels here, naturally ventilated buildings there, in fact, several buildings in the campus have won awards for their eco-mindfulness.

The school proudly announces its Catholic heritage every corner you turn; every room I walked into had a picture of a Catholic saint. Being of the heathenish stock, I was somewhat put off. Religion should be, (if it must be at all) silent and hidden from public view in a shared environment.

In this age of nuclear physics and 4G telephony, it is time to stop pretending that displaying a religious iconography is in any way a profound statement of inner worth or spirituality.

NUMEROUS IT LABS

The effect of having so many religious pictures around you is that it makes the majority who do not share your religion chafe inside. It seems like they are stealthily trying to convert you to the order.

The religious origins of Strathmore have advantages though. The school, I was surprised to learn, offers quite a number of scholarships. Sixteen per cent of the student population is on some sort of scholarship, with sports being the main beneficiary of this

endeavour. It definitely takes its non-profits ideals seriously.

The university is also famed for its strict dress code. It is interesting that the word “catholic” means universal, yet this Catholic-leaning university has such a restrictive dress code. It can only be described as cubicle-fresh, or I-just-turned-up-to-work-and-

need-to-look-serious.

Walking around the numerous IT labs the university has, you cannot help but think that this is the sediment upon which the next generation of technological brilliance shall be built upon. A lot of effort and emphasis has been put on this fact.

This is the university’s forte, and lots of companies have come to take advantage of this fact. Whole learning rooms in the Student Centre are sponsored, complete with branded equipment.

Safaricom sponsors several dozens and has an academy in the Student Centre. Samsung gets a nod in with its laboratory, HP supplies equipment to another lab, and Oracle gets an honourable mention.

Also, EABL sponsors several students for the Guinness scholarship (I however think the Guinness scholarship should by right be offered to Kenyatta University for the students unfailing contributions to EABL bottom-line every Saturday night).

The Transcentury auditorium in the Business school is brought to you courtesy of our friends at… you guessed it Transcentury.

Perhaps this is the way to fund higher education, elegantly blend the comfort of a university environment with the firmness of businesses. Get business to craft the fruit and have the pick of the bunch while they are still ripening. Let industry design the course and pick the tab. That’s how they do it in business schools everywhere, I was told when I asked about it.

SCALING CORPORATE LADDERS

Oh, everyone in the IT labs I talked to comes pre-installed with the latest silicon savannah catchwords: Incubation (because it sounds so much better and complex than develop), scaled (as a verb meaning, interestingly, to both ascend and expand) and solutions (always with an “s”, meaning, most of the time, a mobile application). There is an optimistic Americanised code word for coding; a patois for programming and they all speak it fluently and unconsciously.

The Business school, which has won the school lots of plaudits, costs a king’s ransom, but it is worth it. You leave the classroom with a rolodex of names in the upper echelons of society. More than just what you’ll know at the end of the course, who you’ll

know will be more important. The only place where you would get more helpful contacts in business is in a Masonic lodge, but of course, that would be harder to join.

The school comes highly recommended for people in the first act of their forties looking to make a final assault up the corporate ladder.

If you are a student thinking of joining a public university to study a parallel degree course that is available at Strathmore, go to Strathmore.

 

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Fast rise for university with strong Catholic connections

Inspired by Saint Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei, Strathmore University was founded in 1961, becoming the first multi-racial, multi-religious College. In March 1966, the institution had its first intake of accountancy students, 25 of them.

Fast forward to 1986, the Kenyan government donated five acres of land to the university, while the European Union (EU) and the Italian Government pledged to finance the building of the Makadara campus.

In January 1991, the school launched the Information Technology Centre, based in Lavington.

The following year in January 1992, a Distance Learning Centre was opened to offer correspondence courses in accountancy to students.

In August 2002, Strathmore was awarded a Letter of Interim Authority by the Commission of Higher Education to operate as a University. The first undergraduate students to enroll in these faculties completed their four-year degree course in December 2004 and graduated in August 2005.In June 2007, Kenya’s Commission for Higher Education approved the award of a charter to Strathmore University.

The current Vice-Chancellor of the University is Professor John Odhiambo.

– Pauline Ongaji