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Disputed nursing degree graduates run to parliament

UCU top leadership lead by the VC John Senyonyi

Former students of Uganda Christian University whose nursing degrees were rejected by the nurses and midwives regulatory body have now petitioned parliament.

The former students want MPs to investigate how UCU and three other universities admitted students without the requisite entry grades to the nursing degree course.

According to the petition filed by Ivan Walukhu, Mary Goretti and 21 others, the petitioners want the National Council for Higher Education, Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council and UCU to explain their complicity in covering up the wrongdoing complained of and give the petitioners and the people of Uganda full accountability for their action or inaction.”

On Monday this week, The Observer broke the story about Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council (UNMC), the statutory body which regulates nursing and midwifery, refusing to register students from four universities because they had not met the minimum qualifications on admission.

An investigation by The Observer found that the students were admitted for bachelor of nursing degrees at the four institutions despite not passing the key principal subjects of chemistry and biology at A-level.

The affected universities are, UCU, Bishop Stuart University, International Health Sciences University and Kampala International University. On June 16, 2016, the registrar of UNMC, John Wakida, wrote to the executive director of NCHE, Prof John Opuda-Asibo, complaining about the growing number of such students being admitted to this course.

“There is an immense backlog of students who were admitted into nursing and midwifery training programmes in the different universities without meeting the entry requirements for admission in both biology and chemistry. The students in question have since been qualified by their respective universities and seek to be registered,” he wrote.

Prof Opuda explained that NCHE has hitherto brought the affected institutions and UNMC together in a bid to resolve the problem but with little success.

THE PETITION

In their petition, which was lodged with the office of the clerk to parliament on Monday, the former students argue that UCU wilfully and/or recklessly bypassed the minimum entry requirements for admission of students to the said degree programme set by the National Council for Higher Education in consultation with the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council.

The petitioners demand an investigation and appropriate action to be taken against the concerned personalities and institutions. The petitioners want parliament not only to direct that UCU pays back monies it charged from each of them for the duration of their course but also for “the golden medal for excellent service to the nation in the area of higher education for nurses and midwives given by the president to UCU’s head of nursing department, Ms Jemimah Mary Mutabaazi, be recalled and/or withdrawn because it was obtained through fraud and dubious means, including hoodwinking unsuspecting members of the public and operating or overseeing a fake degree mill.”

Walukhu told us that their petition is intended to shed light on many unexplained issues in the teaching of nursing.

“This petition is not about us, it is about many other students who are likely to suffer the same fate like us if this matter is not attended to. It is about exposing the abuse and exploitation of the vulnerable in society as well as institutional abuse,” he said.

The former students have asked three key members of parliament to help them follow up the matter. The MPs are, Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) and Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu West). Katuntu confirmed to The Observer on Monday that he had been served a copy of the petition.

“The students want our committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) to find out whether there was abuse of regulatory enforcement. We are going to investigate this matter and advise parliament accordingly,” Katuntu said.

On his part, Ssewungu said that he will fight for the affected students.

“I have to fight for the students and parents who are going through so much pain to raise school fees… There must be a solution to this,” he said.

skakaire@observer.ug

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