Study recommends robust action to improve internship experience

Psychology Lecturer Ms. Elsie Opiyo Newa (center right) listens keenly to feedback from Associate DVC-Academic Affairs Prof. Munyae Mulinge, during the Question and Answer segment of her research presentation on Thursday, March 14 in the DVC-ASA boardroom. PHOTO: DAN MUCHAI

By Taigu Muchiri and Dan Muchai

Psychology Lecturer, Ms. Elsie Opiyo Newa presented findings on Thursday March 14, based on research carried out on perceptions of the University community concerning the internship program. The research conducted together with Psychology Department Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Josephine Arasa, revealed overall positive perceptions by the University community concerning the internship program.

The internship program is integrated in undergraduate study and managed by the Internship Office, which is responsible for preparing students for a smooth transition to the work environment, as well as secure internship placements.

The researchers noted that over the years, students, faculty and the Internship Office have expressed their views on the process and how it can be improved to better the students’ experience. Funded by a KES 500,000 internal grant, the study sought to find out students’ rating of the delivery of the internship program, benefits that students receive, strengths and weaknesses of the program, challenges and strategies for improving the internship experience.

Their evaluation tool indicated that the internship program is highly rated by over 60 percent of interns who completed the program by the end of the Spring 2017 semester. On the other hand, the research also revealed the challenges faced by students such as securing placements, poor orientation by several companies and university supervisors, a failure by interns to integrate into their internship site’s organization culture, inaccessibility of sites, to mention but a few.

The findings also cited inadequate supervision of students either due to an inadequate travel stipend for faculty, which affected their ability to meet basic travel costs, or students who change their duty stations without informing instructors. The study also noted some students failed to adhere to professional dress codes, while client organizations did not uphold professional and ethical standards.

The Internship Office also expressed challenges in finding suitable internship sites for the large number of students seeking internships every semester, a fact that placed the burden of searching for the limited internship opportunities available, to the students.

To counter this challenge, the internship office mentioned that it had entered into partnerships with several companies to ensure that students secure internship opportunities but it had not eased the process.

Overall, the results of this study suggested that USIU-Africa runs are a well-organized and executed internship program that has the potential to effectively deliver most of the benefits expected of a good internship program.

The study found that the internship program was perceived as providing interns with benefits associated with a good internship program the world over. In this respect, respondents indicated the program integrated theory with practice, by enabling learners acquire the new knowledge, and skills from a work environment, that adequately prepares them for the world of work, as well as bolster their professional and career growth.

The study’s recommendations invited the careful curation of ideas from internal stakeholders on how the program could be improved, and proposed the adoption of the work integrated learning model that effectively links industry with academia. It also recommended strengthening of in-the-classroom and on-site orientation of interns, including rigorous training of students in report writing.

The study finally concluded that if the internship program’s challenges are not properly addressed through concerted efforts by internal and external stakeholders, they may undermine its potential to present a learning experience of lasting positive effects on interns.

The presentation was attended by Associate DVC-Academic Affairs Prof. Munyae Mulinge, and officials from the Internship Office, Placement and Career Services and faculty undertaking supervision of internship classes.

VC hails U.S. accrediting body’s seal of approval

By Diana Meso

On Thursday, March 7, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, announced that the university has been reaccredited for another eight years by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). This was the first re-accreditation since the university received accreditation as an independent institution in 2008.

This commendation follows an accreditation visit by a team from WSCUC to inspect USIU- Africa’s systems for re-affirmation of accreditation which commenced in 2016. This process reaffirms to the stakeholders that USIU-Africa is an accredited institution that has been rigorously evaluated and meets or exceeds the criteria required to maintain accreditation.

It further means that USIU-Africa programs are relevant in the market, and that the education offered is fair and accurate, including the description of services available to students and the accomplishments of its graduates,

It affims that a student graduating from USIU-Africa meets the threshold expectations of quality to practice their professions which places them as the preferred candidate to employers. Additionally, this confirms that the university is in a position to keep improving its products, services and processes based on the guidelines provided by WSCUC.

The reaffirmation process takes two-to-three years which usually involves the completion of an institutional self-study and institutional report, an off-site review by WSCUC, and an on-site visit from the WSCUC team.

Prof. Zeleza thanked Board of Trustees, University Council, Management Board, University Senate, faculty, staff, students and the Alumni Association for their efforts and participation in the important process.

He specifically thanked Prof. Angelina Kioko (Professor of English and Linguistics) who was the Accreditation Liaison Officer, the Steering Committee and Taskforce and the group of editors that went through the submissions.

The WSCUC Action Letter together with an analysis of the Letter can be accessed through the University intranet:

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