Kyambogo University will effective this academic year 2023/24 restrict the admission of students to only 17 diploma courses that have been approved by the council. The university will not introduce new diplomas going forward.
Out of the 52 diploma programmes that have been run by Kyambogo, the university council phased out 27, shelved eight programmes, and retained 17 diploma programmes. Kyambogo University vice-chancellor Dr Eli Katunguka Rwakishaya said this is a growth curve that has been deliberately undertaken by the university.
“We completely stopped admitting students for certificate programmes and now started refining the diplomas. We shall progressively omit the diplomas and put more emphasis on degrees, Master’s, and PhDs,” Katunguka said.
“It is better to select a few programmes and teach them well rather than teach certificates and diplomas that can be offered elsewhere. We are short of staff by about 70 per cent in an establishment of 33,000 students,” he added.
There are at least 460 full-time staff and about 800 part-time staff at Kyambogo which requires a hefty wage bill to run all the programmes. According to Katunguka, the council found that the university’s meagre resources cannot facilitate the teaching of several diplomas that are being taught by several institutions of learning.
As a result, the university retained diplomas where it has got a niche such as Diploma in Biomedical Engineering, Diploma in Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Diploma in Water Engineering, and Diploma in Fashion and Apparel Design.
Some of the phased-out programmes are; Diploma in Primary and Secondary Education. Kyambogo, established in 2003, inherited about 52 diploma programmes from the merger of the Institute of Teacher Education Kyambogo (ITEK), Uganda Polytechnic Institute Kyambogo (UPIK), and the Uganda National Institute of Special Education (UNISE) that formed the university. The university management brought on board 140 bachelor’s, 48 Master’s, and 11 PhD programmes.
“By all standards, this is massive and you need to either scrap some programmes that have outlived their purpose or recruit more staff to run these programmes,” Katunguka said.
The university has also reviewed its undergraduate programmes. Unfortunately, all the programmes that are no longer run by the university are still listed on the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) website as expired.
Recently, the university submitted 74 programmes to NCHE for review. Katunguka, who doubles as the NCHE chairperson, explained that once a programme has been accredited by NCHE, it does not expire.
NCHE, in an attempt to implement adherence to minimum standards, introduced a requirement for review of programmes after five years for diplomas, bachelors, and masters, and 10 years for doctorates.
However, the implementation of this requirement has encountered structural problems, some related to staffing and low funding from both NCHE and universities. Following several meetings with stakeholders, NCHE resolved to replace the word “expiry” with “due for review” for programmes whose re-assessment has lapsed but have not been submitted to NCHE for review.
The council also agreed to maintain the word “under review” for programmes whose re-assessment has lapsed but have been submitted to NCHE for review. The mandatory submission to NCHE of all programmes labelled as “due for review” for re-assessment is November 30, 2023.
Meanwhile, Katunguka said the university will return to running two semesters annually instead of three which had caused poor planning and execution problems.
The third semester [in a year] was occasioned by the government’s proposal to admit an extra cohort of students in 2021 due to the absence of learners who sat for A-level due to the Covid-19 effect on the education sector.
“This has caused extra financial hardships as we had to cater for about 1,400 government-sponsored students, meet expenses of unplanned examinations, and several expenses encountered in the day-to-day administration of the university,” he said, adding that the harmonization of the two semesters has been carefully done.
Currently, there are students in the first semester and others in the second one. When the university reopens next month, those in the first semester will go to the second semester to accommodate freshers. This transition to the normal university academic calendar of two semesters may take at least three years.
The next semester begins on August 7 while students are expected to sit examinations from November 13 to December 8, 2023. This break will be preceded by the 19th graduation scheduled for December 6 to 9, 2023.
Story Credit: The Observer