The Government will allocate Rwf36 billion to University of Rwanda in the next fiscal year, 2018-19, up from the current budget of Rwf25.2 billion, to ease the varsity’s financial woes, the Minister for Education has revealed.
Dr Eugène Mutimura also said that the budget for the country’s largest varsity will further be increased in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, when it will almost double current budget.
He disclosed this during an interview with the media yesterday shortly after he met members of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth in the Lower House.
The committee was wrapping up its assessment of how institutions of higher learning are delivering hands-on training and members had invited the minister to discuss with him the quality of tertiary education in the country.
Mutimura said the Government had made a follow up on the challenges previously reported at University of Rwanda (UR) and decided to increase its funding to help improve the quality of education it offers.
The Government also agreed to increase living allowances for students, up from Rwf25,000 to Rwf35,000, the minister said.
He said UR’s budget will be increased to Rwf36 billion in the next fiscal year and then to Rwf48 billion during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
“UR’s budget has been small and this meant that the university couldn’t implement many of its programmes. As government, we need to help the university meet its goals,” he said.
“We need to be able to pay lecturers on time and the university need to appropriately deliver its courses. Students need to acquire skills from well-equipped laboratories and the university’s programmes need to be delivered in the most appropriate way possible,” Mutimura told journalists.
The minister also told MPs and later journalists that monthly allowances for government-sponsored students at University of Rwanda will be increased from Rwf25,000 to Rwf35,000 in the next fiscal year.
This will help improve the welfare of students, according to the minister. This, he said, will take effect in the next academic year that starts in September.
The decision to increase funding for University of Rwanda comes months after the university’s officials admitted they were experiencing difficulties in delivering on their mandate after the Government cut funding.
UR’s state budgetary allocation was cut by 50 per cent from about Rwf26 billion in 2013 to about Rwf13 billion in the 2015-2016 fiscal year.
The result was a financial crisis at the UR, which prompted the Government to bail out the university by giving it some Rwf17 billion in the last fiscal year, 2016/17.
Based on an assessment jointly conducted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and UR in 2016, it was decided that the Government would temporarily increase budgetary allocation to the university, starting with the current fiscal year.
Meanwhile, MPs on the Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth pushed for improved quality of education at the UR through more decentralisation of the university’s management, improved students’ access to laboratories, as well as more funding for research.
MP Marie Claire Uwamana urged the Ministry of Education to ensure that UR students get access to laboratories so they can apply what they study in theory.
“The available laboratories cannot serve the current number of students, we need to make sure that students get what they need to acquire badly needed skills,” she said.
For MP Samuel Musabyimana, the ministry should see to it that UR headquarters decentralises operations so that its constituent colleges don’t always have to struggle to get things done.
“There is a lot of bureaucracy at the moment,” he said. “Colleges depend on the approvals from the head office for almost every payment.”
Minister Mutimura assured the MPs that the Government was committed to addressing any challenge that the university faced, citing a taskforce that was created to follow up on the university’s performance, and the appointment of former Education minister Papias Musafiri as UR deputy Vice Chancellor for strategic planning and administration.
Prior to his appointment as Education minister – before he was replaced with Mutimura in December last year – Musafiri was the principal of the College of Business and Economics of University of Rwanda.