The National University of Rwanda should put its act together

From the ‘Light and Salvation to the People” (Salus Populi) to “Excellence in Education and Service to the People” (its new motto), change at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) seems to be moving fastest in branding than in service delivery.

From the ‘Light and Salvation to the People” (Salus Populi) to “Excellence in Education and Service to the People” (its new motto), change at the National University of Rwanda (NUR) seems to be moving fastest in branding than in service delivery.

Last week, sad events brought to the fore the inefficiency in service delivery at the biggest public institution of higher learning suffers from.

I am talking about the issuing of Degree certificates to students who completed their studies at the institution over a period of over 10 years.

Why the degrees were not offered for all this time is an entirely different issue that will be reserved for future discussion.

Over a period of three weeks, the NUR announced the issuing of the long awaited degree certificates.

Names of those to be issued with the certificates were posted on the University Website and slowly, the former students trekked to the university but alas the NUR authorities were caught with pants down.

The Office of the Registrar could be excused because they were overwhelmed by the last minute rush of degree certificate claimants but they can not be off the hook entirely.

As the exercise entered its final week, the office of the registrar knew very well the volume of work before them, so measures should have been put in place to handle the big numbers of last minute claimants.

That is not all; it was more than the final minute rush, the lists posted on the University website contained a lot of unforgivable errors.

For many, the list on the website gave them an all-clear to pick their certificates but they were in for a surprise on arrival at the University campus.

New lists had come up.  Many graduates found that they lost books, had tuition fees arrears and lacked certain necessary documents. For one former student, who graduated in 2008, his degree certificate was already processed but not a single class report appeared in his student file.

Others were in for more shock. Despite completing their studies at the University, their names could not be traced anywhere in university records.

The University did not know them. It would not be far fetched for one to ask if class reports contain the right marks amidst this confusion.

All this points to one thing; inefficiency. It is surprising that a University of such standing and history does not have a reliable student records system.

And this inefficiency seems to be cross cutting in all departments of the university. For example, how could a privately sponsored student be allowed to complete their course and then graduate without paying tuition?

Anyone who has had any dealings with the university’s Finance Department will testify to the poor service delivery that has characterised this department for years.

It is disheartening to find that people have learnt to live with it; it has become ‘normal’ to get poor service from this department.

It’s time the University administration focussed at the rot within.

The University’s rebranding campaign has been impressive but the disorganisation within the institution does not do any good to the image of the country’s biggest and oldest university.

burkepal@gmail.com

The author is a journalist with The New Times

 

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