The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa during session.

Tayebwa orders NCHE to declassify ‘expired courses’ as “under review”

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The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Thomas Tayebwa has blamed the current expired courses crisis on misuse of strong words and directed the National Council for Higher Education to declassify ‘expired’ courses as “under review”.

While presiding over plenary on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, the Deputy Speaker also challenged the Ministry of Education and Sports on its programme accreditation and review policy.

“Sometimes we love using strong words without knowing the impact they can have. Why use the word expired?” Tayebwa wondered.

He asked the State Minister for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo to write to the National Council for Higher Education so that the affected programs are marked as programs under review but not expired. He noted that the word expired is being used unnecessarily.

“When you say a bachelor’s degree’s curriculum is reviewed every after five years, when you have a course like medicine, which takes five years, it means by the time a student is graduating the curriculum has expired or is expiring,” Tayebwa said, adding that: This is not tenable. Why are you causing a national crisis?”

This follows media reports on ‘expired’ academic programmes in a number of Universities in Uganda including Makerere University, Uganda Christian University, Kyambogo University, Victoria University, among others.

 At least 1,470 programmes have expired over the last five years, according to statistics obtained from the NCHE.

The list of affected universities and other tertiary institutions includes both public and private academic institutions, but the biggest universities are the worst hit.

The affected programmes include both graduate and undergraduate courses and the expiration period differs according to the academic institutions.

Presenting a statement on the validity of accredited academic programmes offered by NCHE, the State Minister for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo said the ‘Expiry’ of accreditation, as reflected on the NCHE website, means that the programme needs re-assessment to establish whether the key aspects upon which accreditation was granted are still in place.

“Institutions with programmes requiring reassessment have been urged to submit them for reassessment as soon as possible, in any case by November  30, 2023,” he said.

John Chrysostom Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education.

Dr. Muyingo assured the public that the qualification of graduates on programmes that have received prior accreditation, in accordance with NCHE minimum standards and regulations, by NCHE are valid.

“In the process of programme review, some Higher Education Institutions have found it necessary to delete from offer, merge, and/or improve the existing accredited programmes. The changes ought to be communicated to the NCHE for appropriate update of the programme database at NCHE,” he said.

The qualifications awarded by Higher Education Institutions in Uganda are highly regarded both at home and abroad. Graduates from these institutions continue to receive international admissions, recognition and acclaim,” he said, disassociating the ministry from all media reports on alleged expired programmes.

“This is so as to avoid circulation of fake information that could alarm the public. We, therefore, call upon the public to seek the right information from the National Council for Higher Education to allay any anxiety on the validity of programmes,” he said.

The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka called for calm, saying that all courses are valid.

“The country needs to remain calm; there is no law that provides for expiry of courses. The courses are still valid. It was just a bad choice of word,” AG Kiwanuka said.

The Kiboga District Woman Member of Parliament, Catherine Nakimwero Kaaya faulted NCHE and university managers for failing to play their part.

“These Universities in question advertise for enrolment, get tuition, teach students and even publish the graduation lists when you know the courses are already expired. I put much blame on the responsible officers in universities,” Kaaya said.

Bigiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa said that once a program has been accredited and the university has a charter, the idea of periodical reassessment in his view becomes superfluous.

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