T5-DM1-1 - Plug-in campus for accelerating and catalyzing software engineering education in the Global South

Difference Makers
Maria Ntinda1, 2 , Kauna Mufeti2, Erkki Sutinen1
1 University of Turku
2 University of Namibia

While many well-known universities from the Global North have branch or satellite campuses in the Global South, these overseas units often operate as independent degree outlets of their home bases, offering copies of the programs developed in and adapted for the contexts of these universities’ origin. This could lead to a situation where the overseas campus becomes a competitor rather than a collaborator to the offerings of the native universities in the Global South.

A pocket campus refers to an arrangement where a foreign university (usually from the Global North and called the base institution or university), sets up its presence by allocating its faculty at a physical and permanent space within an existing university (usually in the Global South and also called the host institution or university). The base institution usually wants to reshape itself by the challenges of another geographical and demographic context, while the host institution wants to renew its education, research, or societal impact. The bi-directional and mutually beneficial relation between the base and the host should be that of collaboration, growth, and cross-inspiration, rather than competition or one-directional support. Thus, the pocket campus, while independent in its operations from its host institution, is a catalyst to its host. It ought to accelerate the host’s renewal, without merging to it. Sizewise, the pocket campus is significantly smaller that its host. It is the intensity of the operations, rather than the size, of the pocket campus that matters.

A concrete example of a pocket campus is the Future Tech Lab (FTL, ftlab.utu.fi) of the University of Turku, Finland, within the main campus of the University of Namibia, in Windhoek. In setting up the FTL, the base institution’s aims were to attract motivated students who would co-design future solutions to the challenges of the host country and continent, on site.  The host institution on the other hand aimed to meet the demand for highly competent software engineering graduates that have learned to work closely with businesses or have initiated their startup while still studying. Based on the complementary expectations, the base university rented and recreated a 200 m2 space within the host university, fit for modern pedagogies in software engineering. The multipurpose space, while small, is already allowing businesses to work together with the academia throughout study programs.

The tasks of the pocket campus range from individual coding courses to an MSc degree program in software engineering to a PhD class. All learning activities are tied to RDI projects within the end users of the host country, whenever possible. It also discusses novel technological solutions (that exceed the affordances of conventional videoconferencing) required for remote collaboration, to anchor the base’s operations on the ground at the pocket campus. In order to succeed, the operations of the pocket campus must be integrated into the academic and societal realities of the host. Also, the pocket campus needs to be integrated into the local science, technology and innovation ecosystem to ensure a truly shared academic learning, research and societal impact experiences.