In Summary
  • Brand awareness. Clearly education and universities are a key vehicle for achieving this dream. So as universities, there is a call to forge greater partnership and alliances to support the aspiration of alumni. For universities, the allegiance of your alumni can be a powerful tool for fundraising opportunities, marketing and brand awareness.

You have probably heard the word alumni before, you could as well be an alumus/alumnae; but how often have you gone back to your university to give back or contribute towards its growth? If I flipped the question, has your university ever contacted you to contribute to, or be part of a cause? Do you belong to the alumni association of a university you attended, and are you active, if you do? If your response to all these scenarios is a no, then you and I know where the missed opportunity lies.
Every year, thousands of students graduate from universities world over, ready to add value to the labour needs of economies in this ever changing world of work. Today, many young graduates are said to leave university with a sense of entitlement as opposed to that of duty.
Whereas every university is proud of the career and employability services it is providing, not many of the beneficiaries of those services are well aware of how best to give back. If they are, they are inclined to think of giving back only in terms of finances.

Graduates need to be encouraged to have a duty of responsibility to give back to their alma mater not only financially, but also as mentors and business partners.
While recently meeting a delegation from RUFORUM at his Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, the President of the State of Malawi, Prof Arthur Peter Mutharika, said: “Universities need to encourage their alumni to support and finance some of their programmes. It is a culture that we need to develop in Africa”.
He added that many universities in developed countries have taken advantage of their alumni associations and are making the most out of these partnerships.

Universities in Uganda need to think about how they relate with their alumni beyond the financial support, they need to tap into the diverse pool of skills, to get mentors, business associates and policy advocates. Alumni must at all times be ambassadors to their universities.
Prof Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM and a reknown higher education advocate, believes that the highest return on investment in Africa is in higher education; and as such, alumni should be actively encouraged to provide opportunities and mentorship for the many coming after them.
This perhaps could cause the much needed change at higher institutions of learning. He believes that Africa must invest much more in education, science, research and technology to meet its own development targets, to claim its stake in the world and build a competitive knowledge economy.

It must also strengthen collaboration between universities and industry; and accelerate intra-African research and scientific cooperation.
“We must break the barriers across our continent, build a sense of belief and responsibility among our new generation for the future of our continent”.
Clearly education and universities are a key vehicle for achieving this dream. So as universities, there is a call to forge greater partnership and alliances to support the aspiration of alumni.

For universities, the allegiance of your alumni can be a powerful tool for fundraising opportunities, marketing and brand awareness. However, if you want to tap into those benefits, you need to find a way to maintain the relationship with your students even after they receive their degree.
Although few things drive alumni back to their alma mater, universities can take advantage of tools as simple as social media to profile their graduates and follow up on potential areas of collaboration. Look at your alumni as a huge resource to your University.

Ms Agena is the corporate communications and advocacy
officer of RUFORUM. [email protected];
Twitter @maureenagena