Mineduc wants varsities to have more autonomy

The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) has presented a Bill to Parliament seeking amendment to the 2005 law governing higher education, partly to give institutions more autonomy, pave way for One University system as well as enhance the quality of higher education.

The Ministry of Education (Mineduc) has presented a Bill to Parliament seeking amendment to the 2005 law governing higher education, partly to give institutions more autonomy, pave way for One University system as well as enhance the quality of higher education.

Presenting the Bill on Monday, Education minister Vincent Biruta said it is in line with the framework to enhance development as per Vision 2020.

The Bill seeks to repeal articles that impend universities from engaging in lucrative activities that boost their finances, as demanded by the association of private higher learning institutions, Dr Biruta said.

Currently, universities are supposed to be non-profit, but the Bill will allow them to be profit making if they so wish.

In addition, previously, there were only two recognised arrangements–private or public institutions–but now, a public-private partnership will be allowed as provided for in Article 9 of the draft law.

Under the new Bill, institutions of higher learning, especially private ones will be allowed to decide a chancellor of their own unlike currently where the education minister is the chancellor.

The Bill says in public higher learning institutions, a chancellor shall be appointed by a Presidential Order, while in public private partnership higher learning institution, one shall be appointed by both parties, and in private higher learning institution, the chancellor shall be appointed by the Board of Governors.
 
Lawmakers voice concerns 


Lawmakers welcomed the new Bill, but tasked the minister to explain issues of quality and availability of lecturers in higher institutions of learning.

MP Theobald Mporanyi tasked the minister over what he claimed were below par masters and PhD programmes, especially in the ‘mushrooming private universities.’

He doubted masters and PhD students have the required number of supervisors. This, he said, could be a problem because masters and PhD research papers are supposed to benefit society.

Mporanyi said, “When you look at most masters’ thesis, there is really no difference with those of undergraduates.”

MP Emmanuel Mudidi said, “There are some universities, especially the private ones, offering these masters’ degrees, but there could be a big problem.”

While admitting there are some low quality graduates, Dr Biruta said the National Council for Higher Education is always assessing the quality of programmes.

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