President of Zambia Receives Honorary Degree


The President of the Republic of Zambia receives an honorary degree from Heriot-Watt University today in recognition of his leadership in transforming education in the southern African country. 

President Hakainde Hichilema travelled to the Edinburgh campus where he was conferred with the academic title of Doctor of the University as part of the summer graduation programme taking place this week. 

A self-made and successful businessman, President Hichilema, in his first budget, made education free for every person in the country, leading to over 1.6 million young people entering the education system, and recruiting over 39,000 new teachers.  

After receiving his reward in front of fellow graduands, President Hichilema, said: “We are greatly honoured by this gesture from the University.  

“We dedicate the award to the people of Zambia, who continue to share our belief that education is the greatest equaliser and the greatest investment we can make.” 

Links between Scotland and Zambia have strengthened in recent years with Zambia named as one of the Scottish Government’s four international development partner countries.

It has received £10 million from Scotland between 2017 and 2021 for projects benefitting healthcare, education and small-scale farming. 

One of these projects is Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Business School MBA programme. Launched in 2019 in partnership with the Scottish Government, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) offered 20 fully funded scholarships to women in Zambia who are passionate about business and tackling gender inequality. 

Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University said: “At this University, we deeply value our connection with Zambia and we were proud to welcome our 1000th graduate from the country last year. 

“In recognising the President of Zambia with this honorary degree, we acknowledge his visionary leadership but also his dedication to advancing education and fortifying the economy of the nation.

“This was perhaps best demonstrated when President Hichilema fulfilled his pledge from three years ago to provide school education for every Zambian. 

“This noble undertaking is now illuminating the path towards a brighter future for all of Zambia and is an inspiration to us all to always strive for excellence. 

“Congratulations to President Hichilema on his award.” 

In 2023, with support from donors, Heriot-Watt University launched the Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme in Zambia.

Named after the social campaigner who was imprisoned for 22 years for resisting apartheid, the scholarship is designed to help talented graduate employees in Zambia study an online, part-time Master of Science (MSc) without having to leave their home country. 

It offers MSc degrees in Renewable Energy, Construction Management and Real Estate Management.

The Summer graduation ceremonies for 2024 are taking place at the Edinburgh campus between Monday 17 June and Friday 21 June. 

A total of 15 ceremonies will be held marking the academic achievement of students from the Edinburgh Business School and the School of Social Sciences, School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, School of Energy Geoscience Infrastructure and Society, and the School of Textile and Design. 

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