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How Busoga University sins caught up with it

After a three-year-long investigation into Busoga University’s operations, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) finally closed the 18-year-old institution.

In an October 26 meeting, it was unanimously agreed that: “Busoga University has continued ... to violate the NCHE’s guidelines as provided for under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act (UOTIA) 2001, as amended.”

Last year, several people accused the university of planning to award degrees to South Sudanese and Nigerian students who had only been there for four months.

Busoga University

Former BU academic registrar Pastor Godwin Batuwadde Sempebwa; Isabirye Ngobi Waiswa, a concerned citizen; and Lual Akol Nhial, the education attaché in the embassy of South Sudan in Uganda,  led the complaints with the council.

NCHE found that Sudanese students who graduated on September 30, 2016, numbered 1,173 yet the university list indicated 1,169 students.

The council dispatched expert teams and exchanged letters with university officials until revocation of the license, because most issues remained “unsatisfactorily addressed”, it was reported.

During its 16th graduation ceremony on September 29, 2016 NCHE said the university continued to graduate students prior to accreditation of programmes.

On March 30, 2015, NCHE accredited a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health and later in March 2016, a Bachelor of Records and Information Management, and Diploma in Procurement and Supply Chain Management.

“An NCHE technical officer who attended the ceremony reported that the university graduated students in the programmes earlier than the normal duration of studies,” it was reported.

For now, NCHE Executive Director Prof John Opuda-Asibo said in a December 1 letter, “the revocation of its provisional license does not affect the validity of any certificate, diploma, degree or other academic awards granted by the university when still under the provisional license.”

LIJIF CLOSED

NCHE also revoked the provisional license of Lijif International American College of Health Sciences (LIACHS).

It was found with inadequate finances, poor governance and unaccredited programmes, and lacked premises, having been evicted from Buye road, Ministers Village in Ntinda last year.

In May 2016, media reports indicated that LIACHS had defaulted on rent for two years and owed Dhillon Propertiesmore than Shs 200m. Since then, the council could not trace the whereabouts of the college.

While NCHE permitted Busoga University to reapply for a provisional license after two years from the date of revocation, LIACHS is closed for good.

STAFFORD

The council also put on notice Muyenga-based Stafford University Uganda (SUU). The struggling private university operates on plot 609/611 Zzimwe road in Muyenga-Kisugu.

Complaints against it include; poor governance and disagreements amongst the proprietors, which has affected management of the institution. SUU was given six months to sort itself out or face the fate of Busoga University and LIACHS.

In September, former university director Dr Henry Egesa broke ranks and set up an extension study centre on Tirupati mall in Kabalagala. The other directors  led complaints with NCHE, which ruled that the centre is illegal and should be closed immediately.

On October 27, NCHE dispatched a team of three members to investigate reported non-compliance. The team was led by Dr Daniel R. Ruhweza, Fiona Kunihira and Mary Innocent Tumwesige-Asiimwe.

Ruhweza’s team found the university to be in poor financial health dogged by unpaid rent arrears and staff  salaries of over 10 months and non-submission of the statutory remissions, such as NSSF and PAYE.
SUU also had 37 unaccredited programmes.

“The university had an illegal affiliation with Jobkey University in Mogadishu, Somalia, as evidenced by various email correspondences between SUU officials and one Kamal Mohamed, the deputy rector, related to existence of an MoU between the two universities, printing and delivery of academic transcripts to Mogadishu,” reads Ruhweza’s report.

The investigation team saw a copy of a transcript for a Master of Science in Project Planning awarded to Somali national Ali Abdi Osmani, a list of 79 Jobkey University students and their statement of results in unaccredited master’s programmes, notably; international relations, development studies, public health, public international law, business administration, public administration and social work and social administration.

The team recommended that NCHE further investigates SUU for irregularly graduating over 300 students in conjunction with Jobkey University.

The confusion saw a new vice chancellor, Prof Alfred Nuwagaba, appointed. He resigned, a week after the NCHE team visited.

Prof Nuwagaba said: “I failed to agree with the micro-management style of the directors. They were not letting me do my work as VC. The situation was getting out of hand for me to handle.”

Nuwagaba had worked for one month and a few weeks. He was only paid about Shs 4m of his net pay of Shs 7m.

nangonzi@observer.ug

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