The Minister for Education, Eugene Mutimura, on Tuesday announced closure of two departments of the University of Gitwe over failure to meet recommended requirements.
The departments are Bio-Medical Laboratory Sciences, and Medicine.
Addressing the media conference in Kigali shortly after a meeting with university management, the minister said that the closure of these departments is due to the insufficiency of training equipment and teaching staff.
“They failed to comply with the recommendations from the Higher Education Council (HEC), including having sufficient teachers, enough laboratories and other teaching facilities. They don’t have enough teachers and the few they have are engaged in other administrative responsibilities,” Mutimura said.
He added that the varsity management has to be cautious about the quality of education they are delivering.
“(In future) your students will be dealing with the lives of Rwandans, your students do not have close supervision, and they do not get enough practice. You have to think about the consequences it may cause if these people are not well trained,” the minister emphasised.
Specifically, the ministry accuses the University of having a low lecturer to student ratio.
Instead of a recommended ratio of one lecturer to 20 students, the university has a ratio of a lecturer per 86 students, the minister said.
However, the ministry promised to help affected students.
The decision has prompted the university to seek intervention from other government entities with its Legal Representative, Gerard Urayeneza, saying that the decision was unfair.
“The decision surprised us, we came to show how far we are towards fulfilling the requirements. We already have all required teaching facilities.” Urayeneza said.
He explained that it may cause a great loss for the university and for students especially.
“In early 2016 after being inspected the ministry urged us to have professional teachers and equipment, we hired 23 teachers from Nigeria and seven from Uganda, we were asked to maintain them though they were not teaching as we were not allowed to register students in 1st and 2nd years. This caused a great loss in terms of money and credibility” Urayeneza explained.
This decision is unjust and will affect our students, he added.
Just last week, as it sought to control financial loss estimated to have reached Rwf1.5 billion—the university sought for parliamentary support in the matter.
University of Gitwe admits between 50 and 80 students in its medical department every year, its management said last week as it appeared before the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, ICT, Culture and Youth to challenge the decision by Higher Education Council (HEC).
In 2017, the Government closed five universities including; Singhad Technical Education Society-Rwanda (STES) in Kicukiro, Rusizi International University (RIU) and Nile Source Polytechnic of Applied Arts (NSPA) in Huye District.
Others included Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and Open University of Tanzania that was operating in Ngoma District after the inspection carried out by the HEC and external assessors.