EDUCATION - ALL private universities not meeting standards set by the Ministry of Education will not be allowed to enrol new students in the next 2008 academic year, the ministry has warned. According to Education minister Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the government’s move is aimed at protecting students from falling prey to education investors who deliver substandard education. “The list of unaccredited universities which cannot recruit for the next academic intake will be released next week,” Mujawamariya said in an interview at her Kacyiru office on Friday.
This list, Mujawamariya said will help students to know where to enrol for university studies from an informed point.
“The way some universities have been operating is very saddening and shocking and we are going to do something,” Mujawamariya said.
She however declined to give the names of the institutions targeted saying the move would pre-empt the ministry’s stand.
She said her office would soon send a report from National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) to Cabinet for scrutiny before the fate of the universities’ under probe is decided.
The NCHE submitted the report on its findings on November 8 and made recommendations on who qualified for accreditation.
The council’s licensing panel started vetting seven unaccredited universities in August this year in order to determine whether they were capable of providing quality education.
The universities under probe include the Université Laïque Adventiste de Kigali (Unilak), Umatara Polytechnic, Kigali Institute of Management (KIM) and Institute Polytechnique de Byumba.
Others are the Institute of Agriculture Technology and Education, Université Catholique de Kabgayi and Institut Supérieur de Ruhengeri.
The NCHE operates under the Education ministry and is mandated to ensure quality and oversee the planning of all tertiary institutions in the country.
All degrees, diplomas or certificates awarded by tertiary institutions that are not accredited are considered null and void.
She said the government will continue her fight against incompetent universities despite public misconception that the government is harassing investors in the education sector. The NCHE had in the past warned that universities found wanting will not be licensed.
“What we can assure Rwandans is that the requirements for one to be accredited are too stiff. We want the quality here to be standard,” Pamela Abbot, the Executive Director of NCHE recently told Sunday Times.
One of the requirements for a university to be accredited is to have sufficient operating financial resources to guarantee against any closure after students have paid fees.
The other requirements are recruiting permanent lecturers including those from foreign countries. Institutions are also required to have adequate infrastructure and land.
Private universities have in the past pleaded with the NCHE to be flexible on conditions required by institutions before getting accreditation.
The NCHE is developing education institutional capacity indicators to ensure that all universities deliver quality education before applying for permission to award degrees. According to section 15 of University and other Tertiary Institutions Act, the institution’s provisional operating agreement shall be valid for at least three years with effect from the date of signature of the agreement.
All unaccredited universities had been given three years, which expires early next year.
NCHE insists that the requirements are necessary and must be met to ensure that universities offer quality education.
The minister said cabinet will first handle the report about Unilak then others would follow shortly.
Close to 1,000 Unilak students are trapped in a longstanding feud between the university and the Ministry of Education which has seen the institution fail to obtain a license over the past ten years.
Former Unilak students have in the past complained of finding it difficult getting employment because their academic papers have failed to be recognised by the ministry.
Over 200 former students have already completed their training in Law and Management through Unilak but have failed get their degree transcripts for the last decade. Some claim to have been fired from their jobs as a result.
Over 600 others who are due to complete their courses this December face similar uncertainty as the standoff between Unilak and the Ministry of Education continues.
Unilak Rector Dr. Jean Ngamije said Friday the ministry was dragging its feet on the matter of accreditation. “For us we had already started recruiting new students for the next academic year. The ministry was supposed to have ruled on the matter last month,” Ngamije said by phone.
He maintains that the university has complied with all the formalities that require an institution of higher learning to operate.
Accredited universities’ list
Mujawamariya last September, released a list of nine universities approved by her ministry, sparking off panic in other universities that were left out.
The list was reportedly requested by various employers who wanted to be sure they employed qualified staff.. The Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) were reportedly among the employers who petitioned Mujawamariya to make the list public.
The accredited list has the National University of Rwanda (NUR), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Kigali Health Institute (KHI), the Université Libre de Kigali (ULK) and the 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). Despite the row over accreditation, the number of students joining Unilak continues to grow.