Nyagatare—Frustrated and angry, Umutara Polytechnic students are questioning university authorities to explain why degree-seekers were misled on the institution’s academic accreditation.
Accusing officials of ‘lying’ to students and confused as why they now attend a college, and not a university, students feel as though their education has been undermined by those meant to provide it.
In a letter dated September 11 to ‘concerned institutions,’ director of the National Council of Higher Education Professor Pamela Abbott barred all higher-education institutions not meeting miminu, requirements from carrying the word ‘university’ in their name. Requirements include financial safety-nets.
“Before getting explanations from the vice-rector for academics Dr Eugene Ndabaga, students thought that the authorities were just delinquents because many of the students didn’t get the drift between a University, college and institution,” said one student.
“I know some are still feeling cheated.”
Fears are amidst that the university will turn into another UNILAK, which has been rubbing shoulder is Minister of Education Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya over qualifications for years.
“Many of its graduates from that so-called university are stranded on the streets where they can’t get jobs because they studied from a university which the ministry never gave a blessing to award degrees,” said the student.
Vice-Rector for academics Dr Eugene Ndabaga said the meaning of the name was making a simple situation more confusing.
“The whole issue rotates around that [name]. Whenever it changes people take long to grasp and accept,” Ndabaga said.
“Umutara Polytechnic has the authorization from the Ministry of Education to award degrees.
“It is not all about closing the universities to operate, but its all about classifying tertiary education institutions by their capacity of magnitude of what they offer,” he said.
For an institution to be called a university, it must be having the capacity to award multi-disciplinary subjects, including but never limited to science and technology. Twenty-five per cent of all academic staff must also be engaged in research.
For the reasons above, Umutara Polytechnic falls into the category of ‘colleges,’ a move that has angered students.
Further requirements include the ability to offer Doctorates of Philosophy (PhD) and consultancy firms with a well qualified staffs.
Kanamugire, a second-year student in the faculty of applied economics and management said that the school was worthy of the title.
“Can you imagine? Umutara Polytechnic has around eight PhD holders and still students have failed to grasp that, among many universities or colleges in Rwanda, no other private institution or university has as well qualified staff as ours.”