Tuesday May 1 2012

NCHE lowers grading at universities



The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has lowered its new classification of degrees, diplomas and certificates following an outcry from students.

Prof Moses Golola, the NCHE deputy executive director, told student leaders of institutions of higher learning across the country that because they do many papers compared to the past, the body has tried to accommodate their views to enable them perform better.

“In those days, we did 10 papers and if you got 70 per cent and above, that was first class. But since then, there have been changes. We have tried the best that we can to accommodate your views and put in the fact that you do many papers and not easy to get an upper second,” Prof. Golola said.

While First Class honours degree will stay at a cumulative grade point average of 4.4, it was lowered for students to get Second Class honours degree Upper Division to 3.6 from the initial proposed 4.0 and 4.3.

The guild representatives petitioned NCHE early this month demanding that the body, charged with regulating the quality of institutions of higher learning explains the challenges facing students. They accused NCHE of not protecting students against business-oriented institutions.

Mr Brian Andrew Ssozi, the president of the guild presidents, said: “The way you are handling some of the issues is very slow. If you (NCHE) are the one who gives licences to these universities, why don’t you help us and withdraw them? Some of these lecturers recruited in private universities are not fit to teach us.”

On March 20, Nkumba University students went on strike over the introduction of the new grading system, blocking lecturers from teaching, shattering windows and prompting the administrators to flee the campus.

However, the implementation of the classification at the private institution was four years later after NCHE introduced it and was not to affect continuing students.

In an August 2, 2010 letter to Makerere University principals, deans, directors of colleges, schools, faculties and institutes, the academic registrar, Mr Alfred Masikye Namoah, indicated that Senate had received and considered new classification of final awards from NCHE which the students also objected.

Senate is the highest decision making body on academics at the institution. “National Council for Higher Education under statutory instrument No 34 of 2008 set the classification of awards. The Senate decided that the new classification be adopted and applied with effect from the 2010/2011 intake, excluding continuing students,” Mr Namoah stated.

But Prof. A.B.K Kasozi, the NCHE executive director, and his deputies explained that classification is to ensure quality assurance among institutions of higher learning.