MUBS rejects govt offer on varsity status

Makerere University Business School Main Building in Nakawa, Kampala. The institution’s staff have petitioned government rejecting a proposal to make it a tertiary institution instead of a fully-fledged university. PHOTO by Abubaker Lubowa.

What you need to know:

Different positions. Mubs staff want the institution turned into a fully-fledged university, not a tertiary institution as proposed by government


Makerere University Business School (Mubs) has rejected the government proposal to make it a tertiary institution with powers to award degrees instead of a fully-fledged university.

In a petition to Parliament, Mubs academic staff say there was no advance notification of the government’s intention to make the school a tertiary institution, contrary to provisions of the Public Service Act 2008. They say their demand was for a university status, not a tertiary institution.

Currently, the Nakawa-based institution is affiliated to Makerere University and was started as a constituent college. There has been a protracted battle between the institution and Makerere University main campus over the former’s demand to break away.

The petition
“…we the academic staff of Mubs, aware that we have never asked for the status ‘any other degree awarding institution.’ Cognisant of the fact that we have not been consulted in accordance with the Public Service Act 2008….
Conversant with the difference between a university and a tertiary institution in Uganda and the academic losses we shall incur,” the academic staff petition reads in part.

It continues: “We express our total objection to the government’s intention to table a statutory instrument before Parliament to transform Mubs into any other degree awarding institution. We demand that the intended transformation of Mubs is stopped forthwith.

The current status of Mubs as a public tertiary institution affiliated to Makerere University is maintained.”

The petition, dated May 25, is signed by Mr Isaac Wanzige Magoola, the lead petitioner and chairperson of the Mubs Academic Staff Association. It is co-signed by Ms Laura Orobia, the vice chairperson of the association.

The petition is signed by 145 lecturers. In the petition, the academic staff is afraid of losing the Makerere University brand in the institution’s name.

“We shall lose the Mubs brand for which we have toiled for decades to make visible and internationally reputable and Makerere University will be free to call its current School of Business at the College of Business and Management Sciences, Mubs. We shall have to develop a new brand,” the lecturers state in their petition.

Education minister Jessica Alupo confirmed that the proposal to make Mubs a public tertiary institution and “any other awarding degree institution” was passed by Cabinet and would be tabled before Parliament for discussion.

“Cabinet approved Mubs to be an independent degree-awarding institution,” Ms Alupo told Saturday Monitor in a text reply to our inquiry about the update on the institution’s status.
In his 2011 election manifesto, President Museveni promised to elevate Mubs to a university by 2013.

Mubs officials are wondering what went wrong to warrant change of the President’s position.
The chairperson of Mubs Council, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, told Saturday Monitor they had petitioned Ms Alupo and the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), objecting to the government’s decision to make the school a public tertiary institution.

“As Council, we advised government against that position. It will be self-defeating if government went ahead and turned Mubs into “any other degree awarding institution.” What is disturbing staff is that the institution is being degraded. As an academician, I would rather leave it as an affiliate to Makerere University.”

The NCHE executive director, Prof John Opuda-Asibo, said yesterday their recommendation of a tertiary institution status for Mubs was in accordance with the government’s request.

“We made the recommendation to government upon their request and I suspect that it was communicated to the Mubs officials,” Prof Opuda said.

Mubs has 16,000 students and an additional 14,000 from its other four campuses.
The disagreement between administrators at Makerere University and Mubs campuses came to a climax in 2011, when the latter announced they would start operating under the Metropolitan Business School name and launched new a logo and colours.

The difference

Tertiary institution. This awards academic credentials of certificates up to diploma level but can also award degrees under special authority. It is skill-based as it trains students in how-to-do skills.

University. This offers all academic credentials; certificates, diplomas, first degrees and post-graduate degrees including PhDs. It offers a combination of skills, learning, knowledge and thinking.