Uganda: Makerere probe calls for big autonomy to colleges

KAMPALA. A Makerere University committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, has released its report and recommended wide-ranging administrative changes to grant the colleges more autonomy on power and control of resources.

The College Review Committee (CRC) in its July 2018 report that is yet to be discussed by the university, calls for expansion of the deans’ roles from superintending over academic affairs at a school to resource mobilisation, budget oversights and strategic thinking.

“Council should ratify the shift from the traditional mono-function academic structure of the university to the triple-helix functional model of the university structure to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability,” the report states.

It is headed: “Review report and proposed measures for full operationalisation of an efficient, effective and sustainable collegiate system at Makerere University.”

The report adds that: “The function of a dean in a college should be upgraded and re-aligned from a position of a general strategic leader and support supervisor of a predominantly teaching and learning structure to a special position of leading, supervising and quality assuring– shift from a dean of a school structure to a dean of a college function.”

Decentralise budgets
“Decisions on college budget, operations and service delivery should be immediately decentralised to the colleges. This will enable the core functional units to generate business and budget that feed into the college and the university budgets,” the committee recommends.

The report also recommends that the function of the deputy principal should be realigned to be among the deans, and the college should be mandated to make decisions, issue sanctions and pass orders in relation to teaching and learning and research functions.

The committee also recommended that the University Council grants authority to each college to gradually expand or shift to branch campuses. They argue that this will enhance ownership, guidance and leadership of campuses.

The review was premised on Prof Nawangwe’s plan to unlock the university’ potential and a response to the recommendations of the Visitation Committee that called for Makerere to provide a detailed governance and management structure relevant to a collegiate university.

“This would address the perennial complaints raised regarding the failure by the management to effectively operationalise the collegiate system which was fuelling strikes among staff and students.

If colleges were effectively functioning, it would not be easy to have strikes that would generally paralyse the entire university as most staff and student issues would be handled at decentralised level of the respective constituent colleges,” the report notes.

The 96-year-old institution started a collegiate system in 2011 under Prof Venansius Baryamureeba’s leadership. The committee was tasked to inquire into how the system has been run and make recommendations for improvement or revitalisation.

During the review, the committee observed that besides what is considered the system’s strengths, it has several shortcomings.

The review revealed that the current system is not functioning as it had been envisaged at the time of formation because some positions at college level such as the bursars, secretaries and registrars are not fully functioning.

“There is no single college that is fully formed as prescribed by law. As a result, the colleges are not effectively and efficiently functioning as earlier on envisaged,” the report reads.

The committee noted that there are no clear guidelines in the current college statute for creation of new colleges, schools or departments.

This, according to the committee, has created tension among dissenting colleges and schools that are not currently cooperating together.

Implementation concerns
Prof John David Kabasa, the Principal of College of Veterinary Medicine, notes that the decentralisation of powers and functions to the schools and departments to enable them perform their functions under the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act has not taken place and remains ambiguous.

He said many of the decisions on staff recruitment, admission of students and management of finances, which were meant to happen at college level, are still being made at the centre.

“This practice has in reality demotivated the units and staff who feel that while they help to generate much revenue for the university, they have no say in how the revenues are practically used.

The findings also indicate that the quality of service delivery at almost all levels of the university is being hurt by inadequate resources and low staff morale.

There are many indicators that show stagnation or retrogression in the quality of teaching and learning such as the existence of large class sizes, limited number of teaching staff and late processing of examination results,” the committee observed.

Prof Nawangwe yesterday said the report will be discussed by the university hierarchy but did not give a date.

“We set up a committee which went around colleges getting views. The report will be discussed by management and sent to Senate before presenting it to Council. It is a major review.

We shall not implement before consulting government. It is not something to be worried about now,” he told Daily Monitor last evening.

Prof Nawangwe appointed the committee on September 15, 2017, shortly after he was sworn in as the Vice Chancellor.

By Daily Monitor

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