Makerere University is considering postponing recruitment of students into the department of dentistry due to staffing gaps.
The university vice chancellor Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu revealed this while appearing before parliament's education committee yesterday, Monday. He cited a challenge of staffing at the university, including at the dental department where only five of the 10 available positions are filled.
He told the education committee that the university's College of Health Sciences, under which the dental department operates, requested the university administration not to admit new students in the next academic year until Shs 1.3 billion required for staff recruitment is provided.
Ddumba also highlighted the high costs of equipment required in the dental department without which students cannot be trained. He told URN that for the university to run the department of dentistry effectively it would require about Shs 10 billion in order to procure the required equipment.
“Equipment [is] very expensive. We are not talking about Shs 1 billion actually, about maybe Shs 10 billion to run that school of dentistry. And the other one is about the staffing who are not there”, he said.
The revelations angered the education committee vice chairperson, Pallisa county MP Jacob Opolot, who warned Makerere not to take a such a drastic direction that he described as sensitive.
He noted that his committee is going to look into the university's budget and allocate the required amount to recruit staff for the dental department. According to Makerere's FY 2017/2018 budget estimates, the university has allocated a total of Shs 400 million to improving the dental school. This allocation is up from the Shs 200 million that was allocated to the department in the current FY 2016/2017 budget.
The 2015 Auditor General's report noted that out of 2,774 established academic positions at Makerere, only 1,333 (about 48 percent) about are filled, leaving a staffing gap of 1,441 positions (about 52 percent).
Meanwhile, the matter of staffing gaps in public universities continues to cause concern in education sector with universities pushing for an allocation of Shs 79.7 billion to recruit academic staff in FY 2017/2018.