The Virtual Institute, with funding from the Government of Finland, granted a six-week fellowship at UNCTAD to Willy-Marcel Ndayitwayeko, of Vi core member university, the University of Burundi (UB), October 26 to December 4.

UB, a Vi member since June 2014, plans to launch a Master's programme in international and development economics to enable its undergraduate students of international economics to pursue a graduate degree in this area. The university also aims at training professionals in service who would wish to acquire specialized knowledge in international economics.

The task of developing the curriculum for this new programme fell on Ndayitwayeko, Dean of UB’s Faculty of Economics and Management.

During his stay at UNCTAD, he held consultations with the Vi team about the overall thrust of the programme, the courses that could be included, and publicly available readings that could be used by the students. He also had access to examples of similar programmes offered by other Vi member universities, and met with a number of UNCTAD experts to discuss the content of individual courses, in particular those on commodities production and trade; trade and trade policy analysis; foreign direct investment; trade facilitation and logistics; globalization, regional integration and South-South cooperation; competition policy; and trade negotiations.

During his stay in Geneva, the Vi facilitated meetings with academics from the University of Geneva, Vi affiliate university member, the Graduate Institute, and the Haute école de gestion de Genève, as well as a representative of Vi German core university member, University of Applied Sciences Berlin. Discussions addressed the possibility for these institutions to share some of their teaching materials with UB and establishing academic cooperation in broader terms.

“The materials that I gathered during the Vi fellowship shaped my understanding of the depth of the courses for the program,” Ndayitwayeko said.  “Some of the experts went further by sharing their teaching materials with me.”

At the end of the fellowship, he met with the ambassador of Burundi to the United Nations in Geneva, H.E. Mr. Pierre Claver Ndayiragije, who highly appreciated the fellowship project, as well as Vi's support to the University of Burundi.

The fellowship allowed Ndayitwayeko to prepare a proposal of the Master's programme for his university, including the description and scope of the studies, and the list of courses to be included, together with the description of their content and related readings.

Upon his return to Bujumbura, he plans to present the programme to the faculty and university councils, share materials and electronic links to suggested readings with colleagues and students, identify resource persons to deliver individual courses, and share with them the knowledge acquired during the fellowship.

“My institution will benefit from the program, developed in part with the experts,” Ndayitwayeko asserted.  “The fellowship strengthens the partnership existing between the Vi and UB, and its success opens an avenue for others from the university to take up such an opportunity in the future.”