Varsities body seeks to improve standards

THE ongoing reforms in institutions of higher learning are aimed at producing graduates who meet international education standards, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has said.

THE ongoing reforms in institutions of higher learning are aimed at producing graduates who meet international education standards, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has said.

In an exclusive interview on Friday, NCHE’s Executive Director, Prof. Pamela Abbot said that the vetting exercise will help universities achieve quality education.

“We are checking the competencies of these institutions to see if they meet the requirements for producing quality graduates,” Abbott explained at Hotel Novotel.
She said it was important for students and their parents to get value for their money from the universities and that some institutions were found to have flouted existing rules.
Some institutions began operating before getting final approval from government although they had a provisional operating license.

“The council has given these institutions up to the end of March to meet specific standards required of all institutions of higher education,” Abbott said.

“The manner some universities have been operating is very saddening. Some lacked credible academic and strategic leadership while others have Rectors who did not have the required qualifications and experience to run such institutions” said the NCHE boss.
Another issue is that some universities had few academic staff most of whom were under-qualified and had never taught in institutions of higher learning before.

The minimum requirements to qualify to lecture at a university are a Master’s degree but in these institutions even those with a Bachelors degree were allowed to teach. The council added that the teaching curriculum was narrow in terms of delivery and coordination and hence their degrees did not meet the required standards.

Last August the NCHE began vetting private universities to check whether they had the capacity to give quality education.

 Prof. Pamela Abbott warned that all degrees, diplomas or certificates awarded by institutions that are not recognised by the Council and other stakeholders will not be recognised.

Government set up the Council 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.

Six 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.

NCHE is developing education institutional capacity indicators to ensure that all universities in the country offer quality education.

Abbott observed that there is a general shortage of academic staff with necessary experience and qualifications, adding that many of the staff in the private institutions and those in the evening programs in the public institutions are part time.

The council says there is need for infrastructure development in institutions of higher learning. Computers and laboratories need to be enhanced.

Abbott also talked of the necessity of student centered learning which can enable students to acquire skills for long life learning instead of the traditional talk-chalk method of instruction.
The curriculum in higher institutions of learning needs to be reviewed so that it is relevant to the labour market.
Abbot said that for universities to have a credible system of assessing students, they have to bring in external examiners who can do external verification.
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