Four Busoga varsities close in 10 years

Tuesday March 30 2021
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Busoga University’s study centre in Jinja City. The institution is among the universities in the sub-region that have closed over the past decade. PHOTO | TAUSI NAKATO

By Tausi Nakato

Four Universities have closed in Busoga Sub-region over the past decade, Daily Monitor has established.

The closed universities include Fairland, Busoga, Namasagali and Nsaka. Fairland, Busoga and Nsaka had their licences revoked while Namasagali University voluntarily closed after taking a financial hit.

Mr Saulo Waigolo, the spokesperson of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), at the weekend said the universities had ‘their own factors’ that caused the revocation of their licences.

“The factors were different but the most common ones were due to teaching of unaccredited courses. For example, Busoga University issued fake degrees to South Sudan students who never studied at the university. It is wrong and unacceptable to graduate unqualified students,” Mr Waigolo said.

He also cited the issue of unqualified staff and financial challenges.

The development has left Kampala University’s affiliate as the only private university in Busoga Sub-region and Makerere University and Makerere University Business School (MUBS) as the other public universities, albeit running affiliates.

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Leaders concerned

This has now raised concern among leaders in the sub-region about their future of their children.

Mr Patrick Kayemba, a member of the transitional committee of Busoga University, attributed the closure of the universities to the high poverty levels in the sub-region.

According to Mr Kayemba, institutions of higher learning are “a very complicated and expensive” venture, which rely mostly on students’ ability to pay fees.

“Busoga University was surviving on students that were coming from Kenya; but when universities were established in western Kenya, it reduced the enrolment,’’ he said. Prof Frank Nabwiso, the former acting chancellor of Busoga University, pointed to inadequate resources.

“If you don’t have resources, you don’t invest in a university because they are not like secondary schools. Fairland University, just like Namasagali University, had inadequate resources.

However, Fairland was using resources from the latter, which also got depleted when its founder, Fr Grimes, left,’’ he said. Mr Peter Okocha Kasolo, the Jinja City mayor-elect, blamed proprietors of the universities for being ‘profi t-oriented’ when starting up the institutions.

“People invest in universities as small businesses then rent a small building and start operating. There is a need to know that such undertakings are very big in terms of infrastructure and administration,” he said.

Mr Moses Batwala, the Jinja District chairperson-elect, however, said leaders have not supported the investors to sustain these universities.

He cited an incident where a proposal of turning Naranbhai Road Primary School into MUBS University was rejected by leaders he did not name.

Here are fact files about the closed universities

Fairland University

It was privately owned institution operating as Fairland University Limited.

Established in 2001 in the then Jinja Municipality now city, the university was given a provisional licence to offer diplomas and degrees. But it allegedly started off ering postgraduate and honorary degrees, which was deemed illegal under the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act.

NCHE in 2007 issued a notice of intention to revoke its provisional licence for failure to meet standards and it later closed. Mr Wilson David Musekula, the former university secretary, attributed the closure of the institution to failure to meet the standards set by NCHE.

“The university was off ering masters degrees yet it was only supposed to stop on postgraduate, prompting closure by NCHE. Also, there was the issue of land whose land title the university did not have,” he said.

Busoga University

Busoga University was founded by Busoga Diocese in 1998 with its headquarters in Iganga District.

On December 1, 2017, the NCHE executive director, Prof John Opuda-Asibo, however, revoked its licence following allegations of having unqualified lecturers and running illegal study centres and unaccredited courses. In January 2018, President Museveni directed that the government takes over Mountains of the Moon and Busoga universities

Namasagali University

Namasagali University was on September 4, 1998 founded by Rev Fr Damian Grimes, a Roman Catholic missionary priest, in Namasagali Sub-county, Kamuli District.

Mr Daniel Isabirye, the former assistant academic registrar, said Namasagali University collapsed due to inadequate resources.

“After Fr Grimes left Uganda, resources became inadequate, while the tuition that was being paid by the students was not enough to pay the lectures who are currently demanding the government about Shs4.3b compensation in arrears after the takeover,” Mr Isabirye said.

On February, 11, 2008, President Museveni directed then minister of Education, Ms Namirembe Bitamazire, to transform Namasagali University into a constituency College of Busitema University and it was taken over by the government in 2009.

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Nsaka University

It started operations in 2009 with its headquarters in Jinja Northern Division in Jinja City, but as of

April 4, 2018, the university had never held any graduation. NCHE on March 16, 2020 revoked its provisional licence on grounds that it lacked a budget, had irregular council meetings, 75 percent of its staff were part-timers and lacked a library, among others.

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