University government admissions system crashes

Students wait for their admission letters at Makerere University in August 2016. Makerere University has lost electronic data for at least 103,000 Senior Six leavers who applied for government sponsorship. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

Makerere University has lost electronic data for at least 103,000 Senior Six leavers, who applied for government sponsorship indifferent universities last year.
The Public University Joint Admissions Board (Pujab) data crashed before the selection process for this year was completed.
The deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of Academic Affairs at Makerere, Prof Umar Kakumba, yesterday confirmed the incident.

“This should not cause alarm within the public because we have all those Jab applications in hard copies and they are being recaptured and will be ready before the lockdown ends,” Prof Kakumba said.

The universities now might be forced to extend the date for admission which is supposed be May. Makerere University houses Pujab where registrars from other public universities meet to do the annual selections.

Before 2014, Makerere University was exclusively responsible for the selection of all students to be admitted on government scholarship but the High Court stopped it after a former Naalya SSS student, John Manzi, challenged the entity’s legality to do selections following its failure to admit him to Law School even when he had scored 63 per cent in the pre-entry tests.

No student can be admitted to a public university or tertiary institution on government sponsorship unless they filled the JointAdmissions Board (JAB) forms before sitting their Senior Six examinations administered by Uganda National Examinations Board.

The government sponsored list is usually out by May22 before admission for private students is issued and a number of parents have been seen on social media inquiring whether the list is out.

Sources, who declined to be named to speak freely but are close to Makerere University, told Daily Monitor in an interview that the lists might be delayed after the online system crashed.

“The staff at the university had captured all the data in time but all data has disappeared. There is panic and pressure at the university as staff have been recalled from the lockdown to recapture the date from the physical forms to the online system so this will automatically cause delays,” the sources said.

Sources added the system crashed at the time when the university was slated to send the data to the Ministry of Education to start considering those students who will have qualified for government sponsorship for the academic year 2020/2021.
The source said the staff are still camped at the university to ensure that all data is re-captured.

Sources, however, said the policy has been that Pujab forms must be submitted before A-Level results are released allaying fears that this data might be compromised.

“I do not know if the process will not be compromised because there are some people who could have filled out low courses with hope that they would not perform well and only to excel. So with insiders, don’t you think manipulations can take place and vice versa. We suspect a possibility of doctoring information in order to suit particular courses based on the results,” sources added.
Prof Kakumba, however, said this would not cause any delays given the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.

He said the meeting, where all representatives from public universities sit to select the suitable students for sponsorship, will only be done after the lockdown.

The Uganda National Examination Board (Uneb) usually gives out Jab forms to all secondary schools that are supposed to be filled by all A-Level students before sitting for their final examinations.

This means that a total of 103,000 who sat for the 2019 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education applied for government sponsorship.

Uneb sends all the applications to Makerere where the data is captured to an on-line system.
First Year students usually start in August but given the current lockdown, the government would guide on the way forward.