Deputy Speaker 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, 24 May 2023, the Deputy Speaker 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? Hon. Muyingo you need to write to the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) so that these programmes are marked as programmes under review, ” the Deputy Speaker said.
“When you say a bachelor’s degree curriculum is reviewed 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,” he added.
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At least 1,470 programmes have expired over the last five years, according to the NCHE.
The affected programmes include both graduate and undergraduate courses, and the expiry 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, Hon. 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 30 November 2023,” he said.
Muyingo assured the public that the qualification of graduates on programmes that have received prior accreditation, in accordance with NCHE minimum standards and regulations 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,” he said.
The Attorney General, Hon. Kiryowa Kiwanuka called for calm saying 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,” Kiryowa Kiwanuka said.
Kiboga District Woman Representative, Hon. Christine Kaaya faulted NCHE and university managers for failing to do their part.
“These universities in question advertise for enrollment, get tuition, teach students and even publish the graduation list when you know the course is already expired. I put much blame on the responsible officers in universities,” Kaaya said.
Bugiri Municipality MP, Hon. Asuman Basalirwa said that once a programme has been accredited and the university has a charter, the idea of periodical reassessment, ‘becomes superfluous’.