The American International University (AIU) a private medical university, Monday commenced operations in The Gambia after the institution's approval by the government.
The management of the university had held several discussions with Gambian authorities about the possibility of the establishment of the institution in the country, which led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government last September. The university, according to official sources, will be operating in cordial relationship with the University of The Gambia (UTG) in which both sides will be benefiting from each other's resources and facilities, with AIU's visiting professors rendering lectures to UTG students.
It could be recalled that Lansana Conteh, the late president of Guinea formally laid the foundation stone of the AIU in 1998 in Conakry, with the institution starting as a hospital with the name 'International Medical Centre'. However, due to the political instability that rocked Guinea last year, the management of the university decided to establish a new unit in a stable country like The Gambia.
The AIU is starting operations in The Gambia with 25 students drawn from different African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Lesotho as well as The Gambia and Senegal. Addressing the new corps of students at the AIU's complex along Kairaba Avenue, Monday, Dinesh Shukla, president of the university thanked President Jammeh and his entire government for the support they have provided to the institution from its conceptualisation to date. He stressed that in every institution, it is the student faculty and the administration that defines its strength. "Today is a beginning of a along journey ahead," he told the gathering.
Shukla also told the students that they have a challenging task to accomplish while in the university. He assured that the AIU intends to provide its students with the best in their lives to enable them become productive in their aspirations. He added: "You therefore have a big responsibility. You have to keep focus in whatever you are doing. We want you to make your various countries and us proud."
He further told the gathering that the university's vision and mission are very clear, with medicine as its basic operational area. He disclosed that the AIU focuses on three main areas, which are School of Medicine (five-year programme), School of Dentistry (five-year programme) and School of Pharmacy (four-year programme). He pointed out that the uniqueness about AIU programmes is that students are enrolled immediately they complete their senior secondary school.
He said that the university also offers comprehensive and intensive education programmes based on the American curriculum. "We want to bring affordable education to Africans," he assured, while reiterating that medical education is relatively expensive. An annual cost for medical studies at the AIU, he said will be between $18 000-20 000 per year, compared to universities in the US, where a student has to pay between $70 000-80 000 per year. "Definitely, we want to synergies our resources with the local people, in which both of us will mutually benefit," he added.
Shukla further disclosed that the university in agreement with the Gambia government would offer special benefits to local students, which he referred to as "major benefits". He said that once they start operations, 10 per cent of the enrolment seats would be given to Gambian students with 100% free tuition fee awards for the duration of their studies.
He stressed that the advantage of the coming of AIU to the UTG, is that AIU's faculty staff will provide voluntary education to students at no cost.
Source: The Daily Observer (Banjul)
1 February 2011