Auditor General faults NCHE on the rot in universities

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Muwanga said in his report to Parliament for the financial year ended June 30, 2018 that NCHE inadequately conducted monitoring and institutional audits during the period 2015/16 to 2017/18 despite sh331m being provided.

Auditor General, John Muwanga. Photo/File

KAMPALA – The Auditor General, John Muwanga, has blamed the chronic problems of staffing and inadequate research in universities that impede the achievement of quality education on National Council of Higher Education (NCHE).

Muwanga said in his report to Parliament for the financial year ended June 30, 2018 that NCHE inadequately conducted monitoring and institutional audits during the period 2015/16 to 2017/18 despite sh331m being provided.

He reported that in that period, NCHE planned to undertake 60 monitoring visits of universities.

“Although management reported that they had conducted 30 monitoring visits, audit could only confirm 11 monitoring visits, of which, three were discussed by council in the period. In addition, NCHE neither organised peer institutional audits nor undertook external institutional audits,” he said.

He explained that this was due to inadequate allocation and utilisation of activity funds and low staffing to conduct the activity.

“This has led to universities continuing to run unaccredited/unrevised programmes, unreviewed charters and provisional licences, admitting students without equating their foreign study qualification, and universities providing education that is below standard and poor physical facilities. This affects the quality of higher education in the country,” Muwanga argued.

He also reported that NCHE conducted two tracer studies in 2011 and 2015 for cohorts of 2001 and 2011 respectively, contrary to the good practice of having studies conducted for cohorts of within two to three years.

“Moreover the studies were limited to an average of six universities and 16 programmes and 2000 graduates. The expected 2018 tracer study was not conducted despite sh90m being budgeted in the period,” he said.

He stressed that the universities were also noted not to have conducted tracer studies.

“This was attributed to the universities not being compelled to undertake the studies. There is no information system in place to enable NCHE to track all graduates in the country. This contributes to the continuous mismatch between the needed graduate programmes and content with the labour market requirements,” Muwanga contended.

He also noted that NCHE had established minimum standards for only 43 (2%) of the 2,104 courses of study.

He said by April 2016, 38 of the 43 courses had since expired and were neither reviewed nor published.

This led to programmes being accredited without a check to up to date standards, which may compromise the quality of programmes taught, he said.

As a result, Muwanga noted, NCHE has accredited 2,100 programmes without checking them against up to date minimum standards for courses of study.

He recommended that the NCHE management should plan adequately, prioritize and allocate its resources, including the mandatory students’ fees collections, to conduct its statutory obligations of monitoring and institutional audits, tracer studies and minimum standards of courses of study.

He also asked management to enforce compliance by ensuring that all Universities offering un-accredited and/or courses whose accreditations have unrevised submit them for review leading to accreditation and/or re-accreditation or else have their licenses revoked.

“NCHE management should enforce the conducting of tracer studies by the universities and consider developing guidelines and simpler templates for use by universities when undertaking tracer studies and Government should build and empower the capacity of NCHE to undertake its mandate adequately, through a renewed policy with punitive measures for non-compliance,” he recommended.

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