The University of Malawi has, over the years, forged relationships with various international universities, significantly creating opportunities for both students and lecturers on their academic journey. In 2022, leaders from the seven public universities in Malawi came together to establish an academic partnership with the University of Dundee, located in the United Kingdom.

The partnership has already opened up an opportunity for Mrs. Colleen Mbughi Makunganya, a lecturer in the Geography and Earth Sciences Department in the School of Natural and Applied Sciences. Mrs. Mbughi Makunganya is one of the three successful Malawian awardees in the first cohort of the multi-million-pound Doctoral Fellowship scheme. This program aims to bring African researchers to the University of Dundee to complete their studies. The scheme represents a commitment to fund 25 PhD positions for candidates across Africa over the course of ten years, with a particular emphasis on projects aimed at addressing issues within the continent.

In an interview with Mrs. Mbughi Makunganya, she expressed her excitement at being one of the five chosen candidates from across Africa, with three hailing from Malawi. She further emphasized that this opportunity would enrich her network and expose her to various experts in her field of study from different parts of the world. These interactions will help her gain skills, experiences, and knowledge that will significantly advance her career.

The awardee expressed gratitude for the opportunity. “This chance will enable me to acquire and enhance my knowledge and skills in research and the field of Physical Geography. It will not only develop my personal capacity but also have a multiplier effect by allowing me to share the knowledge I gain with my students and the research community at the University,” she said.

Mrs. Mbughi Makunganya is expected to begin her doctoral studies at Dundee University this year. Her research will concentrate on the impact of land use and land cover change on livelihoods in Malawi, with a specific emphasis on the effect of deforestation on landscape and livelihood challenges for young people in forest-based communities.

 “Currently, there are few experts in most areas of Physical Geography in Malawi, in particular land use and land cover changes, yet the need for these experts is crucial to Malawi’s development agenda and indeed in other countries. For instance, challenges that are posed by transformations in land cover such as caused by deforestation, which includes, loss of soil fertility, flooding, climate change and variability, landslides, among others, have serious implications on agriculture and sustainable development in general. All these problems are barriers to the achievement of Malawi 2063 which aims at transforming Malawi into a youth-centric, inclusive, and self-reliant industrialized upper middle-income country.”

“The training opportunity at University of Dundee offers me an excellent chance to enhance my knowledge and research skills in the field of Physical Geography, specifically focusing on land use and land cover change. This will enable me to make a meaningful contribution to Malawi's development priorities,” she expressed with enthusiasm.