An air of mixed feelings continued to linger among stakeholders as the University of Rwanda last week submitted a proposal of its proposed restructuring and relocation of its campuses to the Ministry of Education.
In the proposal, UR is seeking to relocate some schools from one campus to another, consolide some campuses and close others, particularly those offering nursing courses.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Institutional Advancement, Charles Murigande, was confident the proposed restructuring would be approved ahead of the 2017/18 academic year, which begins next month.
“The [proposed] reforms have been shared with the Ministry of Education, Higher Education Council and members of Cabinet through the Inter-ministerial Coordination Committee,” Murigande told The New Times.
Since the announcement of the proposed restructuring, however, there have been dissenting opinions among the university stakeholders and the general public, with many voicing their opinions on social media platforms.
However, Murigande re-iterated that the reforms are envisaged to create better teaching and learning environment for students and lecturers in order to achieve the goals of the university.
Students who spoke to The New Times said they were not given enough time to prepare themselves, and that some departments were improvised hastily.
Patrick Mutabazi, a second year student in ICT at UR’s Huye campus, said the move was not announced to them in time, and that he fears to struggle once he is transferred to Kigali next month.
To Mutabazi, students should have been given enough time to prepare themselves, as his department was informed only three weeks before the academic year starts.
“Many of my classmates did not appreciate the move. Relocation requires enough preparation,” he said.
“Accommodation in the city is a problem and in Huye we had our ICT room for practice, I fear we will meet many challenges.”
For Xavera Abumukamana, a third year student in Entrepreneurship and Education at the College of Education, which will be relocated to Rukara under the proposed restructuring, the university should be more concerned with challenges the students will face at the new site and help them to solve them.
She said she had got information that Rukara still needed improvement compared to their former location (Kigali).
Edith Nyirabera, whose child will be relocated from Huye to Kigali, said the move will demand more from her.
“My daughter used to pay Rwf6,500 for rent per month while she was in Huye. I have been searching accommodation for her in Kigali and found a house of Rwf30,000 per month. So, I will have to work harder to afford it,” she added.
However, Murigande said lecturers and students should look beyond their personal convenience because the move intends to improve the quality of education, which “will impact the future of the country.”
He assured students that they would get all necessary equipment at the new locations.
A lecturer at UR-Huye campus, who preferred anonymity to speak freely, said the changes will affect them and their families and that students would also struggle to settle in at the new locations.
“Lecturers will have to relocate with their families. This means that their children must also change schools. But for students, despite all difficulties, this move will improve their skills as well as living conditions,” she said.
Commenting on the recent letter from High Education Council asking UR to submit the proposed changes, Murigande said that there was misinterpretation.
He said the letter did not mean that the proposal does not conform to the law or that the council was not consulted.
“The letter says that before full implementation, the council wishes to give its opinion. In the process of restructuring, the council was involved and consulted,” he said.