• Relegated to institute
Embattled Université Laïque Adventiste de Kigali (UNILAK) has been given a go ahead to award certificates and degrees by the ministry of education.
However in the process, the institute has been relieved of its university status, being relegated to Independent Institute of Lay Adventists of Kigali (INILAK) in the due course.
A Ministerial Order approving alterations made to the statutes of this institution was published in the National Gazette on Monday June 1 and states that the decision follows a request by a majority of UNILAK members to modify the denomination.
In the same Gazette, another Ministerial Order from the Ministry of Education states that UNILAK is granted a definitive operating licence and the right of awarding higher education academic qualifications.
This comes as a sign of relief to over 1000 students who went through the institution but had not hitherto graduated because of accreditation saga that has embroiled the institute for the past five years.
The saga that has been going since 2003, saw the institute’s fate pushed to Cabinet to resolve the stand-off between the Ministry of Education and Universite Laique Adventiste de Kigali.
Close to 1,000 Unilak students are said to be trapped in a long-standing wrangle between the private university and the ministry, which has refused to accredit the institution over the past 10 years.
Since 2003, students have been completing their undergraduate studies at UNILAK, but could not graduate because the Kigali-based University was yet to be accredited by the Ministry of Education.
The Institute’s Public Relations Officer, Ferdinand Mbonaruza, said that preparations for the Graduation Ceremony are the next step, now that they have gained official recognition as their statutes were published in the National Gazette.
“We had only been waiting for this publication,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
The official revealed that the twelve-year old institution had planned the first graduation early this year, but the event had been postponed as they were required to either complete requirements to be agreed as a university or change to an institute.
According to Mbonabaza, the number of expected graduates is estimated at around 1,500. He however could not predict the exact date for the long awaited graduation ceremony.
Early March when movements to change the name started, the Rector of the Adventist Church owned institute Dr. Jean Ngamije had told The New Times that the change would not affect the quality of their output.
“Changing the name does not affect the institution’s value because a degree is a degree no matter where it is got from,” he had said.
The former students had been complaining of stigmatisation from employers where they went to solicit for employment on basis of the lack of accreditation.