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A committee set up to review Makerere University’s evening courses and their cost implication has recommended scrapping off the evening programmes within less than 200 students.
Earlier this year, the university’s teaching and non-teaching staff demanded improved remuneration for the extra load that comes with the evening programmes. Vice chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe then appointed a committee to carry out a fact finding mission and identify the most appropriate method of remunerating staff with teaching/administrative load beyond working hours.

The committee headed by the acting deputy vice chancellor Prof William Bazeyo and 20 other members with representation from each college commenced its work on February 15 this year, concluding work in May.

The committee noted that a number of evening programmes had less than 100 students and in some cases less than 50. This implied that it was not practical for the university to keep them as evening courses because of the extra cost they incurred.

The committee based on statistics provided to them by two university directorates of Quality Assurance and Planning and Development. According to the report, the committee members noted that the rationalization of evening programs had been misunderstood by the public to mean they had been scrapped.

However after studying the quality assurance report on unviable evening programmes, it appreciated that the courses with less than 200 students were causing unnecessary costs to the university.
“After receiving and assessing the number of students in each evening program, the committee recommends that all evening programmes with less than 200 students (when combined both day and evening) should be moved to day or afternoon programs,” says report.

The report indicated that such programs should only be admitted as day or afternoon programmes effective 2018/2019 academic year, which commences in August this year. It was also agreed that programmes with excess of 200 students could remain in evening as long as they can meet the costs, a recommendation not affecting continuing students.

The committee also recommended that; “each unit carefully analyses its ability to admit appropriate numbers for programmes.”

Members of the committee observed that if this is not done, the financial status was destined to continue falling and therefore the sharing of resources will be greatly affected.

Some of the courses which have reduced in students numbers according to Dr Vincent Ssembatya, the director for Quality Assurance at Makerere, include Bachelor of Electrical Engineering which used to have 126 students but now has 80, Civil Engineering from 130 dropping to 90 students.

The numbers in the Mechanical Engineering course according to Ssembatya also reduced from 83 to now 60. He attributes the drop in the numbers of students to funding and constant fees paid by students in relation to the changes in dollar rates plus the deteriorating equipment especially in the science sections.

It was recommended that postgraduate programmes with minimum of 15 students be allowed to admit students on evening programmes. Lecturers under their umbrella association Muasa however reject these recommendations citing that the numbers relied on by the committee to arrive at these conclusions were biased.

“The committee determines the viability of the programme by simply using numbers and does not for example integrate the curriculum, the staff on ground and the fees that are charged in their conclusion,” Dr. Michael Walimbwa, the Muasa general secretary states.

Dr Deus Muhwezi Kamunyu, the Muasa chairperson said that the executive had rejected the entire report since it was not taking care of the welfare interests of its members.

“The committee recognizes the number of students provided by the Directorate of Quality Assurance on each program while our research shows that these numbers are inaccurate and therefore do not tally with numbers of ground (continuing, dead year, retakes, etc). This means that we have not done enough to know the exact numbers of students that we teach,” said Dr Kamunyu.

-URN

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CB Reporter

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