Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka has assured Ugandans that there is no provision for the expiry of courses under the laws of Uganda.
”Under our law, there is no provision for the expiry of courses. The Courses are still valid. NCHE is continuing to review the courses. The country needs to be assured that all the degrees that have been issued are well within the provision of the law” AG Kiryowa Kiwanuka said.
The Attorney General’s response follows questions, and worries raised after National Council For Higher Education(NCHE) revealed that some academic programmes offered in most universities and tertiary institutions are ‘expired’.
During yesterday’s sitting law demanded an “urgent” official explanation and government action to resolve the reported saga of universities and tertiary institutions teaching “expired” courses.
The word “expired” gained momentum in Uganda after NCHE used it on its website to describe a plethora of running academic courses it has not accredited.
Several institutions have since defended the listed degree, diploma and higher certificate programmes, describing the purported expirations mislabels since some of them had been restructured, merged or renamed after modifying the content.
Others, according to officials of multiple universities, were under review by the statutory body that had baptised the courses as expired.
Lawmakers during a sitting yesterday said reports that some foreign universities were turning Ugandan graduates who studied the “expired” programmes away, raising the prospects of a wider implication of the problem.
This prompted the deputy speaker of parliament Thomas Tayebwa to task the government to tell Ugandans about the steps being taken to address the confusion.
“So, we need to get very clear information on this floor of Parliament and the government tells us [the] steps being taken to address these cases because what we need now is to reassure Ugandans that indeed those who are educated, their courses are okay,” Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa said.
“If they aren’t okay, what can they do? How do you make a declaration as a country that our courses are expired?” he wondered.
The anxiety among the legislators, reflecting a national mood, dovetails with revelations by some Ugandan graduates that universities in South Africa and Europe had declined to admit them for graduate studies on grounds that their undergraduate courses were “expired”, according to NCHE listing” he added.
According to information on the statutory regulator’s website, more than 2,000 programmes across universities and tertiary institutions in Uganda are “expired”, meaning; “inactive”, meaning unauthorised to be taught; and “under review”, implying pending accreditation decision.
Academic programmes are labelled expired when not re-accredited within specified legal time – within five years for bachelor’s and master’s degrees and 10 years for doctoral studies. Mr Tayebwa at yesterday’s sitting directed that the Ministry of Education furnishes Parliament with a formal explanation on how the country got itself in such a fix.
Mr Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality MP), a former guild president at Makerere University, sought an explanation from the Attorney General, the principal government legal advisor, on likely legal ramifications of “expired” programmes.“
”The issue of accreditation of courses and the effect of studying a course which hasn’t been accredited is a legal issue. It is a legal issue that has been canvassed in courts of law, I want to request that the Attorney General takes interest in that matter so that as they come here [report to Parliament], we have a comprehensive report,” he said.
Opposition Chief Whip John Baptist Nambeshe (NUP, Manjiya) demanded that all parties responsible for the mess be held accountable, but provided no specifics.“It is a huge embarrassment to Uganda that foreign universities are rejecting Uganda degrees.
The truth of the matter is that the culprits are known, the statutory regulator of this sector is NCHE and they have been sleeping on the job,” he added.