History and background

The School of Earth Sciences, Real Estate Studies, Business and Informatics (SERBI)evolved into its present name in 2016 after the merging of the former two Schools, namely: School of Geospatial Sciences and Technology (SGST and School of Real Estate Studies (SRES). The merging was occasioned by a need to strengthen organizational and administrative capacity, increasestudents’ enrolment and optimizeservice delivery to meet the three core functions of the Ardhi University (teaching, research and consultancy).Prior to the merger into the current School (SERBI), the two former Schools (SGST and SRES) had evolved along a long history, as recounted below:

The historical genesis of the current School has evidently been shaped by the shifting priorities linked to demand for Surveyors in Tanzania. Specifically, the single major event pointing to the origin of the School can be traced back to 1936. In this year, the first experiment was made to train Primary School leavers as Survey Technicians. However, the programme was discontinued two years later, because the school leavers could not cope with the course. Between 1951 and 1953 attempts were made to resume training school leavers, but again proved to be unsuccessful. The Survey training started again when the colonial government established a Survey Training Centre (STC) at Mgulani area in Dar es Salaam charged with the duty of training technician land surveyors to help map the country. This time the centre trained the field chainmen who had already been involved in field surveys. The objective then was to improve their technical and theoretical understanding of surveys and mapping. The training took variable times between six months and one year depending on the expected assignment for the particular group. The recruitment did not specify any qualifications in order to join the centre nor did it give any certificates after completion of the training period.

In 1958, the Centre was moved from Mgulani to the location currently occupied by Ardhi University. Then, the Centre was also charged with training of Cartographic draughtsman as well as Survey Technicians. At this point, a more rigorous training programme started. At this point, the entry qualifications were specified, where, those with primary education (Standard Four) were allowed to join the centre. Later, the entry qualifications were raised; where, those who had completed Standard Eight education were recruited for the training. Professional surveying at degree level (Bachelor level) was not carried out in Tanzania. Students were sent overseas, particularly to Canada, Poland, Hungary, and Russia; and to the University of Nairobi (Kenya) to get their degrees. Quite a number of surveying professionals who worked in Tanzania from 1972 were graduates from these countries. 

However, in 1972, following the government’s policy of decentralization of its activities to the regions, demand for more and better trained surveyors was felt. The STC status was therefore changed to the former Ardhi Institute. The Institute was charged with training of midcareer sub professionals in Land Surveying, Land Management and Urban and Rural Planning. Training for these courses lasted for two years. Graduates of the institute were conferred with Ordinary Diplomas in their respective disciplines. 

In 1974, the Institute was re-established by the Act of Parliament and its roles were modified. The institute then started offering full professional courses of three years’ duration. At the same time, Tanzania stopped sending its students to Nairobi with the anticipation that the ‘New’ Ardhi Institute could now cater for the need of producing high level professionals in Land Surveying. Successful students who graduated from Ardhi Institute were awarded Advanced Diploma in Land Surveying. The diploma programmes were rated as degree equivalent.

In 1996, Ardhi Institute was affiliated to the University of Dar Es Salaam and became a University College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) with main academic activities organized into two faculties namely; the Faculty of Architecture and Planning (FAP) and the Faculty of Lands and Environmental Engineering (FLEE), offering Bachelors’ Degree programmes in Land Surveying, Land Management and Valuation and other areas of expertise. In 2007, UCLAS acquired University status in the Name of Ardhi University (ARU) and in the process the school of Geospatial Sciences and Technology (SGST) was established. During the same period, the School of Real Estate Studies (SRES) was established, catering specifically for disciplines related to Real Estate Studies, one of which being Land Management and Valuation. At the end of 2017 the University reviewed its organizational structure whereby four schools out of the six schools were merged into two. The school of Geo-spatial Sciences and Technology (SGST) and School of Real Estates Studies (SRES) were merged to form School of Earth Sciences, Real Estate, Business and Informatics (SERBI). The merger arose with four departments namely Department of Land Management and Valuation (DLMV), Department of Business Studies (DBS), Department of Geospatial Sciences and Technology (DGST) and Department of Computer Sciences and Mathematics (DCSM).