Deadline looms for 1,500 university courses

What you need to know:

  • Efforts to remedy the situation have been slow, with less than half of the affected degree programmes coming under any form of self-assessment at various institutions, raising fresh fears that the higher education sector could again end up in turmoil.

The fate of over 1,500 study programmes in Uganda’s universities and other tertiary institutions hangs in the balance as a deadline set for their review by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) approaches.

There are 34 days left within which the institutions must complete internal evaluation of affected programmes (sometimes loosely referred to as courses) before submitting them for NCHE approval and re-accreditation. A failure to meet the deadline will result in the regulatory body suspending student enrollment into those programmes. 

The November 30 deadline looms less than three months after the ‘expired courses’ crisis left thousands of university graduates in a predicament, with many questioning whether they got their jobs on merit.  Others were more adversely affected, suddenly finding out that could not gain admission into some universities abroad on grounds that their qualifications were not considered valid because they studied courses or programmes deemed to have ‘expired’.

Efforts to remedy the situation have been slow, with less than half of the affected degree programmes coming under any form of self-assessment at various institutions, raising fresh fears that the higher education sector could again end up in turmoil.

In an interview, the NCHE’s Director of Quality Assurance, Dr Vincent Ssembatya, confirmed to Daily Monitor yesterday that all of the country’s institutions of higher learning only have a combined total of 2,395 out of 4,369 accredited degree programmes, approved as up-to-date. 

He was, nonetheless, hopeful the deadline will be met, saying Council officials are standing by to complete the necessary reviews.

“As the NCHE, we are ready to review all the programmes as and when they are submitted. If the institutions fail to beat the deadline, they will not be permitted to admit students until they are fully reviewed,” Dr Ssembatya said.

A total of 1,560 programmes offered by both public and private institutions are due for review while 400 or so are reportedly at various stages of the elaborate evaluation process.

A sense of the extent of the problem can be seen in sampling of Kyambogo (155), Makerere (115), Uganda Martyrs (103) and Ndejje universities which have the highest number of programmes due for review.

But despite the huge numbers involved, the Academic Registrar at Makerere University, Prof Buyinza Mukadasi was confident they will make it , saying that internal review of affected programmes is nearing completion.

According to him, at least 41 programmes are before the committee on quality assurance; 54 have been presented to the University Senate, while about 20 are still being looked at by various colleges and schools at the institution.

“Majority of our programmes are in the final stages of approval and would require only one day. A few that are still before the departments and colleges are the ones that might delay. But we are sure that we shall be able to beat the November 30 deadline,” Prof Mukadasi said.

According to the NCHE website, Makerere which is the country’s largest and top-ranking public university, has 115 programmes due for review, while 41 programmes are under review. It lists 119 of Makerere’s programmes as being up-to-date or active.

At Kyambogo, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Eli Katunguka, who also holds the position of NCHE chairperson, contested the number of his university’s programmes listed for review on the regulatory body’s website. It shows that 155 programmes offered at Kyambogo are due for review; 13 are under review, with 75 being active or up-to-date.

“I think the NCHE has not updated their data on the website. We cannot have over 155 programmes inactive because the council cleared 73 of our programmes. We are going to crosscheck with their data and see,” Prof Katunguka said.

Clearly unlikely to meet the November 30 date, Prof Katunguka said his teaching staff are constrained by the heavy workload.

“Review of programmes is a lengthy process and since most of our academic staff are involved in teaching right now, the review process slows. We also have an upcoming graduation in December so we are fixed,” he said.

However, all is not lost for Kyambogo with Prof Katunguka pointing out that since it was resolved in an August 21 meeting with NCHE, institutions unable to beat the November 30 deadline can apply for an extension – which is what Kyambogo will do, he said. 

Yesterday, the Vice Chancellor of Kampala International University, Prof Mouhamad Mpezamihigo said KIU is in the final stages of assessing all programmes that were due for review.

“We had already started on the review of our programmes even before the directive from NCHE. We are in the final stages of finalising these programmes and we shall be able to beat the November 30 deadline,” Prof Mpezamihigo said.

At least 99 programmes at KIU are due for review with 100 acknowledged as active of up-to-date on the NCHE website.

But just like his colleague at Kyambogo University, Prof Mpezamihigo called for a deadline extension because reviewing programmes is a complex and time-consuming undertaking.

He warned that some institutions might end up submitting shoddy appraisals just for the sake of meeting the deadline.

In July, the body responsible for regulating higher education in Uganda directed institutions across the country to submit all programmes that were due for review by November 30.

The directive followed the rejection of applications of Ugandan graduates who were seeking to upgrade their qualifications in foreign universities on the grounds that their degree programmes had been classified as “expired” on the NCHE website.

As the far-reaching implications of this decision swept through the country in July affected alumni, current students and Parliament went into a state of disbelief and near-panic. Under pressure to come up with a solution, the NCHE convened several crisis meetings involving university leaders. It was eventually agreed that the Council replaces the contested word “Expired” with “Due for review” to describe programmes that had run the course of their accreditation period, which fixed from five and ten years for undergraduate and graduate level programmes, respectively.

The NCHE also allowed institutions to admit students on programmes that were due for review until November 30 when all institutions that fail to beat the deadline would be required to freeze admission into those programmes.

At the time, about 2,048 programmes were active/up-to-date; 2,004 were due for review, while 209 were under review. This suggests, therefore, that in the intervening two months, only 347 programmes have been reviewed and re-accredited by the NCHE.                                   

On Monday, Dr Ssembatya observed that the Council is hopeful all institutions will beat the deadline. He, however, stressed that some institutions might not submit all their programmes because the programmes have been phased out.

Meanwhile, some institutions accused the NCHE for delaying to review their programmes as well as not reflecting on their website programmes which had received a greenlight.

Gulu University Communications Officer, Mr James Ojok Onono told this publication that the university does not have a single un-submitted programmes unlike what is indicated on the NCHE website. 

“As far as I know, we only have a few courses under review and these are; Bachelors of science in bio-system engineering, Bachelors of science in water resource engineering, Masters of Medicine (Surgery) and Masters in paediatrics and child health,” he said.

He added that, “Officials from the NCHE were here on October 4 and inspected both Lacor and Gulu hospitals where our students practice from, they also inspected our teaching facilities and as I speak we are waiting to hear from them if we have been accredited or there are areas we need to improve”. 

Mr Onono said Gulu University runs 80 programmes including six for the award of doctorates, 27 for Masters, nine Post-graduate, 33 Bachelors and five Higher education access certificates. 

Some courses on the NCHE website attributed to Gulu University on NCHE website, including Bachelors of technical education (Mechanical); 

Bachelors of science in electrical, electronics and communications engineering; Bachelors of science in mechanical & automotive engineering, among others, were either phased out or have never been taught there, Mr Onono said.

The Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) whom NCHE claims have 69 programmes affected, also disputed what is reflected on the NCHE site.

In a September 28 report to the IUIU board, the university’s director in charge of quality assurance, Dr Hajat Amaal Kinene said that only the Bachelors of Nursing Sciences and the Bachelors of Biomedical Sciences had not been submitted. 

“Out of the 114 programmes, 27 (23.68 percent) are up-to-date, 85 (74.56 percent) have been submitted to the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) for accreditation and re-accreditation. Two (1.75 percent) programmes are still pending, not yet submitted by the faculty, three (0.03 percent) programmes are already under NCHE review and 24 (21.05 percent ) so far have been accredited and re-accredited by NCHE.,” reads part of the report seen by this newspaper. 

According to Dr Kinene, the two courses expired in early September and are yet to be submitted to the quality assurance committee for internal evaluation then onward to the NCHE.

The Academic Registrar of Ndejje University, Ms Mary Wanda said that all their programmes are accredited with the last batch reviewed and re-accredited in December 2021.

“For us we don’t have any challenge with NCHE, all those courses were reviewed and accredited in 2021 and we have a letter to that effect. We are not complaining because we know our stand with them,” Ms Wanda said, insisting that the information displayed by NCHE is not be up-to-date. 

Vice Chancellor Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Prof Celestino Obua said they are waiting to hear from NCHE. 

“Even when we have submitted courses for review NCHE needs to visit institutions to see whether the conditions of the facilities for delivering the programme that were initially approved are still sustaining, but the programme continues until it is reviewed. Most programme are submitted with no changes in them, it is just to update the status with NCHE,” Prof Obua said. 

He revealed that the university is still admitting students because courses do not expire and at any time can be reviewed by NCHE. 

“The only thing that an institution cannot do is if you are preparing a new programme, you cannot run it before it has been accredited, before it is approved by NCHE. [That] is the only time you can be faulted for running a programme that hasn’t been accredited,” he said.   

In the Council’s defence, Dr Ssembatya yesterday maintained that their technical teams have been updating the NCHE website as and when affected programmes are cleared.

Courses due for review

Africa Institute of Music

Dip. in Intercultural Studies highlighted

Advanced Diploma In Music

Advanced Diploma in Intercultural Studies

African College of Commerce and Technology

Diploma in Renewable Energies

Dip. in Tourism and Hotel Management

Diploma in Journalism

Dip. in Human Resource Management

Diploma in Business Administration

Diploma in Records Management

Diploma in Public Administration

Diploma in Stores Management

Dip. in Library and Info. Management

African Population Institute

Dip. in Public Admin & Management

Dip. in International Relations Management

Dip. in Business Management & Admin.

Diploma in Public Health

Diploma in Social Works & Social Admin.

Al-Mustafa Islamic College

Diploma in Education -Secondary

All Nations Theological College and Seminary (ANTS)

Diploma in Christian Education

Diploma in Biblical Studies

Diploma in Mission Studies

Alliance Vocational School

Diploma in Accountancy

Dip. in Journalism and Mass Com.

Diploma in Business Administration

Artfield Institute of Design

Diploma in Audio and Sound Production

Bon Institute of Business and Technology

Diploma in Information Technology

Dip. in Records & Information Management

Bukalasa Agricultural College

National Dip. in Agribusiness Management

Dip. in Crop Production and Management

Dip. Animal Production and Management

Dip. Crop Production and Management

Dip. in Animal Production and Management

Diploma in Home Economics

National Dip. in Human Nutrition & Dietetics

National Dip. in Horticulture and Management

Covenant Bible Institute of 


Diploma in Bible and Theology

Datamine Technical Business School

Diploma in Electrical & Electrical Engineering

Diploma in Business Computing

Dip. in Procurement & Supplies Management

Diploma in Business Admin. and Management

Diploma in Customs Clearing and Forwarding

Diploma in Information Technology and Systems Management

Diploma in Human Resource Management

Diploma in Accounting and Finance

Diploma in Fashion and Design

Dip. in Computer Numeric Control Technology

Dip. in Records and Archives Management

Development Studies Centre

Diploma in Organisational Management

Diploma in Project Cycle Management

Diploma in Community Based Climate Change and Adaptation

Diploma in Disaster Management

Diploma in Accounting and Finance

East African Professional Counseling Institute

Diploma in Counselling Physchology

Diploma in Addiction Counselling and Therapy

Diploma in Marriage and Family Therapy

Engineering Management and Innovation Institute

Diploma in Information Technology

Diploma in Fabrication

Diploma in Graphics

Diploma in Renewable Energy Engineering

Diploma in Business Administration

Ernest Cook Ultra Sound Research and Education Institute

Foundation Programme- Physics

Diploma in Medical Engineering

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Health and Development

Bachelor of Science in HealthCare Administration and Management

Diploma in Cold Chain Storage and Instrumentation

Diploma in Early Childhood Health& Dev’t

Dip. in Health Administration & Management

Masters in Radiology

Diploma in Medical Radiography

ESLSCA International Business School

Postgraduate Diploma in Global Business

Postgraduate Diploma in International Marketing

Bachelor of Science in Information Technology

Bachelor Degree in Human Resource Management

Bachelor Degree in International Business Administration

Bachelor Degree in Business Administration

International Foundation Programme

Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Management

Diploma in Business Administration with International Business

Diploma in Information Technology

Fisheries Training Institute

Diploma in Fisheries Management and Technologies

Diploma in Marine Construction, System Engineering and Mainatenance

Diploma in Integrated Aquaculture and Agriculture

Fort portal College of Health Sciences

Dip. in Leadership and Health Management

Diploma in Clinical Medicine and Community Health

Diploma in Pharmacy

Diploma in Anaesthesia

By Damali Mukhaye, Busein Samilu & Sylivia Katushabe