The National Council for Higher Education, the body charged with regulating tertiary institutions in Uganda, has notified Busoga University in Iganga district of its intention to revoke its provisional license if concerns are not addressed within six months.
The regulator accuses Busoga University of, among other things, awarding suspicious degrees to hundreds of South Sudanese and Nigerian students. The university is further sanctioned for its weak governance structures, a high staff turnover best illustrated by 16 academic registrars in 18 years, and admitting students without adhering to NCHE’s minimum admission criteria.
The regulator should be commended for moving on Busoga University. When struggling universities are allowed to continue operating without sanctions, it’s their students that ultimately suffer.
When Lugazi University collapsed a few years back, the biggest losers were its students and alumni. No person wishes to hold a degree from an institution that ceased to exist as that alone could compromise employment prospects.
The liberalisation of tertiary education in Uganda has served the country relatively well, with a number of quality private universities coming up. However, we have also noted the proliferation of universities that are not worth the name.
Besides students who enrol in such institutions being the victims, as they are deprived of quality education, Uganda’s image as the centre of educational excellence in the region has been eroded.
As a result, the hitherto lucrative market for education services in the region is at risk, with reports indicating that the number of foreign students coming to Uganda has reduced over the last couple of years.
This is not surprising given the bad publicity our tertiary institutions have suffered. From the Kenyan politician who obtained a fake degree here to the 40 or so PhDs awarded by an institution in a single academic year without such capacity, Uganda’s record as a great destination for regional education-seekers has taken a downward spiral.
To save what is left in terms of the regional education services market, and also maintain a high standard for our own children, the NCHE should be supported to do its work, and do it well.
Busoga University and others in the same boat must justify why they should keep their licences.