Public varsities to merge

Government is considering merging public universities into a single management in a bid to bolster their standing globally.  The move, which could come into effect next academic year, that starts in September 2012, is aimed at enhancing standards and efficiency in higher education in the country.
Education minister, Dr Vincent Biruta. The New Times/File
Education minister, Dr Vincent Biruta. The New Times/File

Government is considering merging public universities into a single management in a bid to bolster their standing globally.

The move, which could come into effect next academic year, that starts in September 2012, is aimed at enhancing standards and efficiency in higher education in the country.

The idea was first mooted at this year’s leadership retreat in Rubavu, earlier this year.

The New Times understands that the draft of the law instituting the single university system is already in place, and that it will be taken to cabinet for approval, early next year.

According to the Minister of Education Dr Vincent Biruta, once the cabinet approves the draft according to plan, there are chances that it will come into force by the next academic year.

“We have reached an interesting stage. The merger is expected to play a major role in the enhancement in the quality of education because it will help us of efficiently and effectively using the available resources such as lecturers, laboratories, among others” said Biruta.

According to officials, merging the institutions will be part of a restructuring process geared towards cost-cutting while retaining efficiency and competitiveness.

“Money will be saved in administrative and course designing roles,” said Biruta.

Merging institutions could create more streamlined and coherent management of higher education, officials say.

This, they urge, is because it could be planned in such as a way that the university would have a rector at the top, and then deans of faculties can serve as the heads of various campuses.

That would eventually lead to a reduction in departments.

The merging of various faculties is also expected to strengthen the faculties as opposed to when they are still scattered in various institutions of higher learning.

There are, currently, eight public institutions of higher learning in Rwanda, with a total population of about 25,000 students.

Prof. John Severin Mshana, the Vice Rector for Academics at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), said in a previous interview that he believed the idea of the merger was viable.

“I am not worried about it. It will lead to optimal utilisation of resources.”

However, some people The New Times spoke to expressed concern over the development.

“I am scared it may kill professionalism and competition due to lack of specialization. These institutions have different ways of mobilizing resources and attracting potential partners. Merging them may discourage such initiatives,” said George Karemera, a student at Kigali Institute of Education.

Another student at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), Yusuf Mugabe, said he did not understand how effective it would be, adding that the merger would instead create further complexity and management difficulties.

charles.kwizera@newtimes.co.rw

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