The Ministry of Education has warned that private universities in the country that start new academic programmes and open campuses before being accredited will be closed.
Speaking at a news conference, yesterday, Dr Innocent Sebasaza Mugisha, the executive director of the Higher Education Council (HEC), issued the warning follows an audit which found some universities offering unauthorised programmes, while others opened new campuses without authorisation.
“HEC has suspended five academic programmes at Mount Kenya University (MKU-Rwanda), closed its Rusizi campus and the University of Kigali’s Musanze campus. We have also warned Mahatma Gandhi University against offering face-to-face courses because we authorised them to offer online courses only. We have urged them to address all deficiencies and we shall inspect them for authorisation,” he said.
According to Dr Abdallah Baguma, the acting director of academic quality at HEC, the suspended programmes at MKU include bachelor of upgrading nursing, bachelor of pharmacy, bachelor of medical laboratory sciences, bachelor and masters of public health.
“The University of Kigali had applied for opening a campus in Musanze District, but the campus started operating before we responded to their request. We have closed it in the meantime until we inspect the campus on September 7,” Baguma said.
Dr Mugisha also urged members of the public intending to join higher learning institutions to check with HEC if their prospective institutions and programmes are recognised.
“We have rejected many applications for equivalency tests because the applicants graduated from unchartered institutions or unaccredited courses. I urge Rwandans who are joining foreign universities, especially those in this region, to cross-check and make sure they are recognised and the desired courses are accredited,” he said.
However, Henry Musisi, the MKU’s public relations and communications manager, told The New Times that the decision would affect fresh students alone.
“HEC has asked us to expand labs and other facilities, but no continuing student will be affected with the suspension of those programmes. Our students from Rusizi campus will also continue their courses at Kigali,” he said.
However, Dr Mugisha insisted that the decision would affect all levels.
Musisi added that HEC also asked MKU to consolidate activities in one place which he said will be possible by end of this year when the university completes its campus in Kagarama, Kicukiro District.
David Rugaza, the dean of students at University of Kigali, said the decision does not affect any of their students since they are in holidays and expressed hope that the issue will have been addressed before the next semester due to start late September.
“University of Kigali is offering accredited programmes but we only wanted to open another campus in Musanze. We applied for inspection and we were just starting to register students and offering preparatory courses. We have all the facilities in place and we are just waiting for HEC’s inspection, early next month,” he said.
Varun Gupta, the director of Mahatma Gandhi University’s Kigali campus, said they have applied for inspection before they open their campus in the coming month.
Dr Mugisha, meanwhile, said despite tremendous progress in higher education learning over the past 21 years, human resource gaps and gender imbalances still pose a challenge.
The number of students has increased from 3,261 in 1994 to 87,013 in 2014, but the number of females in public higher learning institutions stands at 32 per cent, while it stands at 54 per cent in private.
Among the academic staff, the PhD holders are 607 (reflecting 17 per cent), master holders are 2,116 (representing 53 per cent).
“The remaining proportion goes to bachelor holders (24 per cent) and other lower levels take 7 per cent,” he said.
The target is to increase PhD holders among the academic staff to 50 per cent by 2020, according to HEC.