QUALIFICATIONS, qualifications and higher qualifications is the order of the day. If you are not currently enrolled in some higher education institution for a bachelor’s, masters or PhD, you probably have that in your medium term or long term plans.
What would you do today if you are told that the university you are studying in is neither here nor there, meaning it is not chartered neither are its programs accredited? Would you pull out your hair or go for the head of the Rector of the university?
Such is the dilemma that thousands of graduates from one renowned university in Uganda have found themselves in. After years of hard work and hefty expenditure in tuition fees and related expenses, after a lot of toil and moil at the hands of lecturers and literally going on one limb to get the highly coveted qualifications, after foregoing all the luxuries with their hard earned cash, they got a hot slap in their faces.
It is not just people with no scruples who suffer but also the diligent and honest find themselves under the heavy arm of the after math of devious deeds that they absolutely have no hand in.
I am referring to the skirmish that followed the realisation that Kampala International University, which has grown rapidly in a short span and spread its wings to the larger East African Community member states, failed the quality test.
The red flag was raised by Uganda’s National Commission for Higher Education (NCHE) that slammed the University’s plans to graduate 42 students with PhD’s. The commission noted that the University lacked the capacity to offer such a prestigious qualification.
The Kenyan counterpart, Commission for Higher Education (CHE) added complications to the University’s woes by rubbishing all qualifications from KIU. The worst hit was prominent personalities who would not be shortlisted for interviews to possibly see them at the helm of top commanding offices of Kenya’s troubled police force that is being reformed. The three prominent personalities’ only barricade to the possible chance to command Kenya’s police force was the fact that they were graduates from KIU.
Unscrupulous investors continue to fatten their cash from innocent and unsuspecting members of the public in the name of offering professional qualifications.
In the last decade or so, it looks like government institutions have been slowly but steadily ceding ground to very cunning private investors who want to run higher institutions of education like supermarkets.
While in other eyes the development graph is at the exponential stage with the mushrooming of up street and down street ABC and WXYS kind of universities, underneath is a ruthless wave of quality dilution that is more ruinous than it can possibly be estimated.
Many are PhD holders who have been stripped of their PhDs because they obtained them from institutions that are not accredited. The most common are those that are offered through online programs.
While the hard earned revenues of higher education thirsty individuals continues to go down the drain in the wake of cases of online conning on the upward spiral, less is heard from the concerned authorities and policy makers that are supposed to give redress to the ‘innocent guilty.’
So baffling is the fact that KIU has a very conspicuous campus in Nairobi’s central business district within the vicinity of all the policy makers yet nothing was done to stop its operation from the word go. While questions were raised about the speed at which students completed courses from there, the commission for higher education remained blind and dumb until the ‘last minute’ when the situation had gone out of hand.
The fate of graduates from KIU across the EAC hangs in the balance as it is unclear if Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will also enforce the ‘failure of quality test’ on the university and its products.
But as we mull over the impending bedlam, we have to hang our heads in the shame of failure to be proactive in the starkest reality that we are part of the puzzle that cannot be unraveled. That we play in the chaos and use the law of mayhem to create order out of disorder and sobriety out of chaos.
It is easy to tell cheap institutions. One, their admission criteria is too lax; programs are quick to finish in the name of efficiency. You cannot miss admission in such an institution. Entry tests are just a formality to raise revenues. Two, they have mediocre academic staff who cannot gather enough material to deliver a 3 hour lecture. Lastly, they expand faster than chain stores. They set up campuses where there is business because like chain stores, the difference is only the fact that they churn out quarter useful graduates.