SFB locks out 230 students from graduating this year
EDUCATION :Stalemate over supplementary examinations boils over
About 230 fourth-year students at the School of Finance and Banking (SFB), one of the most respected tertiary institutions in Rwanda, face the risk of not graduating in June this year if they are not allowed to sit their supplementary examinations.
This means that almost half of the 500 students leaving the institution at the end of this academic year, will have to stay at the university for one more year, unless a way can be found out of the stalemate.
And the students have another reason to worry; their plea, according to the students’ guild, to be given a chance to sit for the supplementary examinations, has been rejected by the school administration.
Traditionally, university students in Commonwealth countries are allowed to re-sit units they have failed in the end of year examinations.
“We petitioned the administration but the Vice-Rector in charge of academics says that their policy prohibits supplementary examinations,” said Guild president Steven Nankunda.
The affected students (mainly from the two Departments of Finance and Accounting) will have to wait for another year before they graduate from the university.
Students who talked to The New Times, yesterday, complained that those who fail examinations at the SFB are not allowed to sit supplementary exams, thus raising the number of those unable to graduate.
“Normally, university standards stipulate that students are allowed to re-sit examinations as a way of supplementing academic performance. It is not the case here,” Fred Rwiririza, the leader of fourth year students said.
He said it was unfair that the students are required to pay Rwf 80,000 in order to retake one examination even after being forced to repeat the class.
Rwiririza also claimed that facilities at the institution were stretched, particularly the library and computer laboratory.
Other students complained that lecturers at times refuse to assist them complete their studies.
“We have students who do a lot of work on their project proposals because some supervisors do not respond to their queries. Sometimes they even refuse to pick up calls from students,” claimed Livingstone Byakatonda, one of the affected students from the Department of Finance.
When contacted, for comment, the Vice Rector of the university, Dr Papius Musafiri, confirmed that some students will not graduate this year, but added that the final list of those not graduating was yet to be released.
“How can they graduate if they still have some dues from the previous semesters? The true number shall be known at the end of this semester because there are some remaining courses to cover,” he said.
He said that the objective of the graduation should not be the number of graduates, but the quality of students that the institution is putting on the labour market.
Dr Musafiri’s views were echoed by Professor Geoffrey Rugege, the Executive Director of the National Council for Higher Education. He backed the SFB for its “tough stand”.
“Institutions of higher learning have the full freedom and autonomy to change their academic regulations to adopt what they consider the best practices,” he said.
Rugege, however, said that all academic regulations are under review with the aim of making all universities adopt uniform standards by September this year.
Unlike the SFB, other universities in Rwanda are yet to abolish supplementary examinations.
“Its part and parcel of our regulations that students should be given another chance once they fail an examination,” said Professor Silas Lwakabamba, the Rector of the National University of Rwanda.
Rwanda has more than 10 universities as demand for higher education rises sharply, sending about 3,000 graduates every year to the job market.
Contact email: sam.nkurunziza[at]newtimes.co.rw