Mulungushi vs UNZA vs CBU
With the number of registered universities in Zambia increasing every day, it can be difficult to narrow down which university is the right one to apply to.
When I was choosing my university, I considered all the non-academic factors – its’s accommodation, the campus life, the night life etc. And while all these factors are important because you are going to be at your chosen university for the next 3-6 years of your life, I wish I had paid more attention to the specifics of the academic experience.
For this post I interview 3 students from Zambia’s 3 biggest universities and hopefully their responses will guide you in your university decision making process. But first some information about my interviewees:
1. What was the structure of your program?
UNZA: You major in Computer Science in your 2nd year, after completing a whole academic year of Natural Sciences. The second year courses give you an introduction to Computer Science, in 3rd year we go a little deeper, in 4th year we are more or less seeing how we can apply what we have learnt. In an academic year we took 6-8 courses and sat for 6 exams that is 2 (mid and end of year) per academic year.
CBU: The program was designed in such that the first three years had a course which involved programming, and also mathematics. On average there was a minimum of 6 courses that I had to take and exams were taken at the end of each academic year, roughly after 9 to 10 months.
2. What can you say about the lecturer-student ratio? Do you feel like you were a part of the crowd or did you have a one on one relationship with your lecturer or supervisor?
UNZA: In a class we have an average of 20 â€“ 45 students. My intake had the highest records of 45 students. The department has about 10 lecturers. Well I was both part of a crowd and had one to one confrontations with my lectures when I felt I needed to.
CBU: Most often than not, I felt like I was part of the crowd, I however got to relate with one or so lecturers on a personal level.
3. How available were your lecturers to clarify any issues you might have had?
UNZA: Lecturers were always available we could also get their private numbers if we wanted to.
CBU: Despite their busy schedules, lecturers always made themselves available for any queries or help that I needed.
4. How well rounded do you think your training was? Do you think you covered as many different aspects of computer science (artificial intelligence, graphics, theory, databases, networks, programming, etc.) or was it more tailored to one particular aspect?
UNZA: The program was all rounded. In 3rd year we had 2 streams you either go Software engineering or Systems engineering. I went Systems engineering. Though it was only one course different. We learnt Programming languages, Programming language design, algorithm analysis, AI, networks (wireless included), graphics, Operating systems etc. Those doing Systems did systems design and those who did Software did Software engineering.
CBU: The design of the program was tailored such that students could have a starting point in whatever field they find themselves after graduating for example networking, programming etc and for this reason, most aspects of computer science were taught to us within the four years of study.
5. How practical was your training? How often were you required to make a physical program?
UNZA: Training was both practical and theoretical depending on the course. Programming languages we did labs and assignments every week, same as databases, distributed systems. But every course had an allocated time for a lab.
CBU: The training was practical as we often had assignments to do after classes in courses that involved programming like c++, Pascal, and Android. Marks were been awarded depending on how well the code was and if it was able to achieve the desired result.
6. What can you say about the condition of the computer labs, your access to them and the availability of a good internet connection?
UNZA: The computer labs are of average standard with windows and Ubuntu installed. Internet was okay too one of the best at UNZA (according to Zambian standards).
CBU: The lab was open especially to final year students and also had a good connection depending on the traffic of that day.
7. Do you think the degree from your university gave you an advantage over other candidates during job hunting? Did the university provide any kind of employment support?
UNZA: Yes, compared to the structure of other colleges and universities in Lusaka. We also took certification exams paid for by UNZA in SAP (ERP) and CCNA 1 and 2.
CBU: Yes it did. It was easy for me to pick up after leaving campus as most of what I came across in the industry I had already learnt while at university. Learning professional courses after school was also easy for me as I had background knowledge in other disciplines like networking and programming.
8. Did your interest in computer science increase or decrease by the end of your degree?
UNZA: My interest increased greatly. I now really understand computer science.
CBU: It increased as I even looked forward to utilizing the knowledge that I gained in the classroom.
9. What can you say about the graduation rate in computer science at your university?
UNZA: In all intakes every one graduates except maybe for 1 or 2 who carry overloads. 98%.
CBU: The graph of students enrolled and those graduating is not constant. It declines as students go towards their final year. However there are some who graduate later in the following year or so after having gone on part time but most often than not it is rare if at all that all students that were enrolled together graduate together.
10. If you could change something about your experience, what would it be?
UNZA: Participating in group work. I was more of a sole man.
CBU: Provision of detailed study kits and not necessarily relying on the handouts.
11. Whats one thing you wish you had known before choosing computer science at your university?
UNZA: I wish I had known how to program way before I joined CS.
12. Would you recommend your university to prospective computer science students?
UNZA: Yes, I would
CBU: Sure I would, one would never go wrong having studied computer science at The Copperbelt University. There has never been a single day that I have regretted having chosen The Copperbelt University over any other University in Zambia.
Well there you have it! Hopefully these interviews have been able to shed some light on what computer science is like in the different Zambian universities. What has been your experience at university? Or what questions would you like answered? Leave your comments below…