After a long-drawn-out struggle, Makerere University Business School (MUBS) is set to become an independent public university hopefully effective next academic year, 2012/2013.
Last month, Francis Lubanga, the Permanent Secretary at the ministry of Education and Sports presented a proposal to the Parliamentary Committee on Social Services which, once approved, will see MUBS become an independent entity, renamed Metropolitan Business School. This will bring the number of public universities to five.
MUBS has bickered with Makerere University since 2001, particularly over ownership of programmes and courses leading to court cases, prompting the intervention of President Museveni. While he is not sure when the institution would get the independent status, MUBS principal, Prof Waswa Balunywa, is optimistic it will come sooner than later.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Venansius Baryamureeba has pledged to facilitate a smooth transition, saying that students admitted under the previous arrangement will be awarded Makerere University degrees. Thereafter, Metropolitan Business School will have a choice either to have its academic programmes affiliated to Makerere University or not.
MUBS first sought to break away from its parent institution in 2006, when it launched its own motto, logo, seal, flag, emblem and organized separate graduation ceremonies.
Students at the Nakawa based institution received the impending separation with mixed reactions. Some appreciate the development, while others are unsure of what it means. For Julius January, a third year student of Bachelor of Business Administration, the move is welcome.
“For purposes of efficiency and effectiveness, I think it’s okay for MUBS to become an independent public university. It has the required facilities; we have a very good library and other infrastructure. I think it is better for it to stand on its own.”
He adds that Makerere’s current reputation is to some extent as a result of MUBS’ contribution. You know MUBS is the best business training institution in not only Uganda but the region. In fact, MUBS is in final stages of completing a multi-billion library block at the campus. Once completed, it will be by far the most magnificent library block in Uganda.
John Isingoma, however, is not happy with the development, saying losing the name ‘Makerere’ will haunt the institution.
“You see Makerere has been there for long and has made its name. It now ranks number eight on the African continent. Having your academic transcript and ID in Makerere’s names makes you recognized and it becomes even easier in terms of hunting for a job,” he says.
But Paul Ssemukuutu, another student, disagrees with Isingoma. He says that MUBS has already made its name especially in business courses and it should no-longer be under Makerere’s shadow. Balunywa also admits that because Makerere has been around for a long time, they have a brand.
He however, rules out that this will deter MUBS from pursuing independence.
“Yes, we shall have a setback but it will be in the short term.
“The advantages are many in terms of the speed at which we will do things, the flexibility in starting new programmes and killing off some old programmes,” Balunywa explains.