Thursday, June 20, 2024

African Leadership University – Quick Guide

If you’ve been trying to decide whether the African Leadership University’s Kigali campus is right for you, then you’re in the right place.

I studied at ALU between 2018 and 2022. So this guide is an honest review based on my experience attending. 

I’ll be sharing what you need to know, answering some questions you most likely have about African Leadership University (ALU), and hopefully helping you make that final decision.


Where is ALU Rwanda Located?

The ALU Rwanda campus is situated about 9km from Kigali International Airport in an area known as Kigali Innovation City. The area is a growing hub for startup incubators, education institutions, and offices aiming at developing talent in Rwanda, and also houses Carnegie Melon University Africa, right next to ALU Rwanda. 

The ride to campus is a scenic one, offering views of beautiful palm trees that line major roads in Kigali, the busy, populous roads as one gets closer to the campus in an area known as Kimironko, and a short up-hill drive that leads you to the campus gates.

How is the Application Process at ALU?

ALU’s application is no walk in the park. It consists of four sections that include standard application forms, assessments, supporting information, and finances.

Application forms – require personal information such as education, self-identification details and documents, and leadership experience.

Assessments – You may do a math and English language assessment and a personality assessment. The personality assessment may come in the form of a psychometric game where. you’re assessed according to how you choose to handle obstacles, for instance, and how you navigate different situations, showing what you are strong or weak at.

Supporting Information – you may be asked for reference letters from your area leaders and supporting documents such as certificates of leadership.

Finances – This part introduces financial options and obligations that you would have as a student and also tells you if you qualify for financial aid.

Now the application process for any university really is often long and sometimes tedious. It may take a couple of months to finish, yet it needs dedication. I wasn’t as keen as I probably should have been in the application process, and I didn’t get accepted on the first try. 

So I did it again, this time putting in some more work. There are some things that I could have done to make the whole process easier. I’ll share them with you so you can take advantage of them.

  1. Ask for help from people around you like your teachers, mentors, and people who have gone through a similar application process and got accepted to other schools.
  2. Email the admissions team to help you out when stuck. Once you start the application process, the admissions team will often send you tips and tricks on applying to the school, and they are often very willing to help you once you reach out to them. Alternatively, you can find out if there’s an ALU hub in your country, and visit it, if possible, to learn more about the school and connect with current students! find out what to do about documents you may not have with you.
  3. Reach out to current and former students, and ask for a few pointers on the application. You can find students in the hubs or on Linkedin, for instance. 

You would be surprised at how willing people are to help. So don’t do it alone if you don’t have to. Get some help.

And keep updated on the deadlines, different steps to the application process, and any changes made.

One last tip would be to complete the application to the final stage. This may sound obvious, but you may be tempted to give up along the way or lose the excitement you had at the beginning. Remember, you’ve got this! 

Complete the assessments, provide everything required, and countercheck to make sure you didn’t mistakenly miss something; This increases your chances of getting accepted.

ALU Fees: How much is Tuition at ALU? 

Tuition at ALU currently costs $3,000 per year. You can pay for this from savings or through grants, loans, or scholarships provided by ALU Rwanda.

Scholarships at ALU 

ALU Rwanda provides a limited number of scholarships every year that can help you pay for your education. These may be full or partial and are often announced through email newsletters and on ALU’s social media pages and websites. So keep looking out for such announcements!

Don’t forget other Costs

Apart from tuition, you will need to pay for housing, insurance, food, and other personal items.

The Rwanda campus doesn’t include dedicated living space for students within the campus. You would need to find a place to stay. But, they often have agreements with a hotel or two that may provide subsidized accommodation for students, especially in their first year at ALU.

Therefore, the costs of studying would pretty much depend on what you prefer, from living spaces to food, and activities you do in the country.

Check out our neighborhood guides to better understand the different places you could live in Kigali. I’d recommend KabezaKibagabagaRemera, and Kimironko as they are closest to the school. You can take a motorbike to school that will cost you a maximum of approximately 1000rwf($1) per trip, or a bus that costs about 250 rwf($0.25) per trip.

Studying at ALU

Prepare to be thrust into the deep end – Well, not literally- in your first year at ALU, especially if you come from a traditional school where you learn mostly through theory. 

Classes start at 8 am and end at 5 pm CAT, with each class going for one and a half hours. You would typically have two classes each day, within this time. Each class has about 20 to 30 students. 

For the studies, you can expect a student-led format that puts more emphasis on your participation and encourages you to tailor your learning to your passions and interests. This involves multiple group discussions, presentations, and take-home assignments. The teachers act as facilitators, guiding students through their work.

You will do multiple projects throughout your study at ALU Rwanda. Expect to solve real-life problems provided by companies that partner with ALU, or identified by you. For instance, you could be asked to find a solution for the traffic issue in Nairobi, and present it to your facilitator and the rest of the class.

These projects are often tackled in groups. That is the next thing you can expect to be part of your learning – collaboration with other members of your class. You’ll learn to work in teams, researching and presenting findings together with your team members. The projects you work on are overseen by ALU’s group of teachers(facilitators) who are often experts in their respective fields. 

To get you acclimated to this student-led mode of learning, you will do a one-year course on leadership once you join the school, also referred to as Leadership Core.

I’ll admit, I struggled with this one. From having sleepless nights to working on assignments for hours, trying to get used to the less theoretical, more practical system of education, and, my absolute worst, presentations to panelists. 

Going through this first year was made slightly better by having other students I could struggle with together. And it was also necessary to prepare for the rest of the journey at ALU Rwanda.

So I’d advise you to embrace this part of your experience at ALU. Look to make the most of it, and your future self will thank you for it.

Courses Offered at ALU

Once you finish the Leadership Core course, you go onto the degree program. This has changed a bit since the pandemic started.

I studied International Business and Trade and did several classes that were a mix of the traditional theory-focused curriculum and more practical ones that involved a bit of on-the-ground research and activities. 

But you would take a different route. 

After your first year, you pick a Global Challenge that you are interested in. This could be in infrastructure, education, conservation, governance, gender, or even the creative economy among others.

The rest of your learning period would then be tailored around this chosen field. This means that every project, research conducted and class taken will be tailored around your chosen challenge. 

ALU Accreditation & Ranking

ALU Rwanda is accredited by the Ministry of Education in Rwanda and ranks as the second best out of 24 universities in Rwanda. It ranks at 305 out of 1,103 universities in Africa and 8,218 out of 14,160 universities in the world.

Now let’s look into a more fun area that is life at ALU. 

ALU Social Life

You know the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” 

Well, people take this saying seriously at ALU. The culture here can be described as a work-hard-play-hard culture.

While you’ve got to put in the work, you’ll also get to enjoy some pretty fun times with other students and staff.

From talent shows to art exhibitions, live music events (my personal favorite), and ball games like basketball, there is always a social event happening on the campus.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for your quick guide to the African Leadership University in Kigali. You are welcome to ask questions that you may still have in the comments section below. And, if you do decide to apply to ALU, I wish you the best of luck! 


Is African Leadership University Accredited?

Yes, African Leadership University (Rwanda) is accredited by the Higher Education Council of Rwanda while African Leadership Campus (Mauritius) is accredited by the Glasgow Caledonian University

How much does African Leadership University Cost? 

African Leadership University school tuition is $3000 per year. Keep in mind that you will also need to pay for accommodation, medical insurance, and travel fees.

Does ALU offer full Scholarships?

ALU offers full scholarships to students from low-income families. They also offer grants that cover part of your tuition. You can find available scholarships on ALU’s social media pages as well as during the application process. 

Why should you Join ALU?

You should join ALU to experience a different learning experience from a traditional university. Create your own learning experience by focusing on what you are passionate about with the guidance of qualified professionals. You will also get equipped with skills that you can use across different career paths.

Who is the Founder of ALU?

The founder of ALU is Ghanaian entrepreneur, Fred Swaniker

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