HEC closes five varsities

Five private institutions of higher learning in the country have been closed permanently over inadequate staff and lack of enough training facilities, among other requirements, officials have said.
Some of the affected students during HEC's  official closure of the Singhad Technical Education Society-Rwanda in Kicukiro.  (Jean d'Amour  Mbonyinshuti)
Some of the affected students during HEC's official closure of the Singhad Technical Education Society-Rwanda in Kicukiro. (Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)

Five private institutions of higher learning  in the country have been closed permanently over inadequate staff and lack of enough training facilities, among other requirements,  officials have said.

 The affected institutions are among ten universities which were suspended or whose pragrammes were suspended earlier in March.

 The suspension followed an external audit recommended by the government to assess challenges affecting higher education.

 After the assessment, the affected universities were given six months to comply, after which an assessment was conducted, according to officials.

 Thereafter, the Higher Education Council (HEC) worked with professional bodies on a fresh assessment after some affected universities reported to have fulfilled the requirements.

However, during the assessment, it was realised that five of the tertiary institutions had failed to meet minimum requirements, according to Abdullah Baguma, the director of academic quality at the Higher Education Council.

 Baguma said that the universities were subsequently given up to two weeks to have given affected students their academic documents to enable them seek admission elsewhere.

 “The universities should be responsible and provide all the required academic transcripts for the students to apply in other universities, what we are also doing is to inform other institutions of higher learning to be ready to receive new applicants,” said Baguma.

 Baguma announced this on Monday at the Singhad Technical Education Society-Rwanda (STES) in Kicukiro, where HEC officials had gone to officially close the varsity.

 Other closed  institutions of higher learning, he said, include Rusizi International University (RIU), Nile Source Polytechnic of Applied Arts (NSPA) in Huye District, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, and Open University of Tanzania that was operating in Ngoma District.

 “Before starting operations every university is given a temporary operating licence after meeting basic requirements. The closed institutions   had a chance to work towards having all requirements but, unfortunately, this did not happen,” Baguma said.

 He said HEC will keep conducting regular assessments to ensure that no tertiary institution offers substandard education.

 He also urged students and parents to be cautious of universities they enroll in by gathering enough information about them.

 Commenting on Singhad Technical Education Society-Rwanda, Baguma said that it had been given licence to operate under STES-India with only two programmes accredited but later it started three others.

  Even when the assessment started, Baguma noted, the university officials failed to cooperate and did nothing to prove they were working to put in place the requirements.

 Decision ‘unfair’

However, officials from the university dismissed this, saying it had never failed to meet the minimum standards.

They also claimed the university was offering quality education but the audit was done without consulting the right people and the auditors  ended up getting the wrong information about the institution.

 Kiyengo Nzitonda, the university founder, described the decision to close the institution as unfair.

  “We applied for five programmes because we wanted to contribute to the country’s industrial development. However, we were surprised to see in the report that only two programmes had been accredited. I could not cooperate in the assessment because it was not clear, closing our university is very unfair,” he said.

 He said the university would avail academic documents to students seeking admission elsewhere but insisted he would pursue the case at various fronts.

 Some students expressed concerns, saying moving to other universities would make them repeat.

 “Some of us applied and were told to go in second year  even when we were in fourth year. Besides, we had projects that were ongoing and we fear that they will derail,” said Arsene Isimbi, a fourth-year student of Electrical Engineering.

 The tertiary institutions  which were allowed to reopen include University of Technology and Arts of Byumba (UTAB) in Gicumbi District, University of Gitwe in Ruhango District,  Institut Catholique de Kabgayi in Muhanga District, Instut d’Enseignement Superieur de Ruhengeri (INES-Ruhengeri) in Musanze District, and Mahatma Ghandi University (MHU) in Gasabo District.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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