At last the National Council for Higher Education has come out to give some guidelines to institutions of higher learning seeking accreditation as universities.
According to a letter that was addressed to them, all such institutions which have not been granted permission to award degrees yet, should never refer to themselves as ‘universities’, but rather ‘colleges of higher learning’.
The National Council for Higher Education has been too silent on an issue that has taken centre stage in higher education circles.
There are controversies regarding accreditation which have not been solved up to now, with some institutions accusing the minister of Education, Jean d’Arc Mujawariya, of personally frustrating their efforts to register.
It has always been felt that it was not the minister’s role to make a ruling on whether those institutions had made the necessary conditions to get accredited, but the council’s. The minister’s mandate was simply to insist on acceptable standards.
It was wrong in the first instance for institutions that were not ready to award degrees, to be let to begin teaching degree courses.
Stern action should have been taken immediately to stop them.
Now we have a situation where many students who thought they passed their final degree examinations and are merely waiting to graduate officially, will have to be informed that their studies can only earn them a diploma certificate at best.
Or will the council allow an institution like University Laique Adventiste de Kigali (Unilak) that has a great backlog of students yet to graduate, and that has been keenly pushing for proper accreditation, grant them degree certificates, when clearly they have not yet got the nod up to today because of failure to meet all the council’s requirements for university status?
It is an intriguing situation, because it would mean giving degrees to people who never studied degree courses.
The education ministry needs to issue clear guidelines to prospective university students about what type of colleges we have in Rwanda.
The campaign should leave no one in doubt when a decision for joining college is being made.
There is no better place to do this than at base - all schools that provide high school education, prior to joining college.
No single candidate would join an unlicensed college, having known before hand which is registered and which is not.
It is a matter of simple guidance by the ministry.