Unaccredited institutions denied ‘University’ title

Institutions offering higher education but don’t meet minimum standards have been blocked from carrying the word ‘University’ in their names. In a letter dated September 11 to the concerned institutions, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) said all institutions of higher learning which have no degree-awarding accreditation should use names like “college of higher learning’ or other approved title but not university. 

Institutions offering higher education but don’t meet minimum standards have been blocked from carrying the word ‘University’ in their names. In a letter dated September 11 to the concerned institutions, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) said all institutions of higher learning which have no degree-awarding accreditation should use names like “college of higher learning’ or other approved title but not university. “We feel that for one to use a university title, they must fulfil all the requirements that qualify the institution to award internationally recognised degrees,” the NCHE Executive Director, Prof. Pamela Abbott said.


Government set up the National Council for Higher Education as an independent agency to advise the State on the strategic planning of higher education and to make sure that higher education in the country is of high quality and meets international standards.

The council insists that all degrees, diplomas or certificates awarded by institutions that are not recognised by the council and other stakeholders will not be recognised.

Seven private institutions of higher learning are currently being vetted by the council to assess whether they have the capacity to offer quality education that meets international standards.
The institutions being vetted include Universite Laique Advantiste de Kigali (Unilak), Umatara Polytechnic, Kigali Institute of Management (KIM) and the Institute Polytechnigue de Byumba.

Others are; Institute d’Agriculture Technology and Education, University d’Catholique de Kabgayi and Institute Superieur de Ruhengeri.

The council on Tuesday this week issued a code of practice to private institutions providing higher education and the compliance will be required by September 2008.

The code emphasises that for an institution to be allowed to award any academic qualification of higher learning, it must have enough operating financial capital to guard against any closure after students have paid fees.

“In line with international norms, the university and specialist institute titles will be protected”, said Abbott. “The whole idea here is to protect the students,” she added in an interview at her Kacyiru office.

Abbott said that an individual who has completed a programme at an institution that has not been allowed to award degrees/diplomas or certificates of higher education may not claim to have a higher education qualification.

NCHE insists that the requirements are necessary and must be met to ensure that operating institutions offer quality education.
Education Minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, has vowed to fight against incompetent institutions claiming to offer university education despite public perception that government is harassing and frustrating education investors.

“Its bad for an education provider to wake up one morning, set up two faculties and then claim to offer university education or calls his institution a university” said Mujawamariya yesterday in a phone interview.

NCHE is developing education institutional capacity indicators to ensure that all universities in the country offer quality education. Documents from Unilak The New Times has so far seen show that close to 1,000 students are trapped in a longstanding wrangle between the private institution and the Ministry of Education which has seen the institution fail to obtain a license over the past ten years. Over 225 former students of the institution have never received their degree transcripts for the last decade.

The students completed their degree training in Law and Management but cannot get transcripts because Unilak is not allowed to award such degrees. And 609 other students who are due to complete their courses this December face similar uncertainty as they are not sure to get jobs since their campus has no accreditation.
Unilak Rector Dr Jean Ngamije yesterday also in a phone interview reacted angrily over the proposed decision, describing it as ‘highly’ unfair.

“We got our provisional license legally and we applied for it as a university.

The ministry must enact another law to nullify our identity,” he complained.

He said the procedure of forcing one to drop the ‘university title’ should be clear before the decision is implemented.

Last September, Mujawamariya released a list of nine universities approved by her ministry, sparking off panic in other universities that were left out.

The accredited list has National University of Rwanda (NUR), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Kigali Health Institute (KHI), the Universite Libre de Kigali (ULK) and School of Finance and Banking (SFB).

Others are; Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (ISAE), l’Université Adventiste d’Afrique Centrale (UAAC) and Institut Supérieur Pédagogique de Gitwe (ISPG).

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