Iganga- As universities across the country prepare to open for the 2018/19 academic year in August, a cloud of uncertainty hovers over the fate of about 2,000 students of Busoga University.
The university, closed in December 2017 by the National Council for Higher Education [NCHE], was operating on an interim injunction granted by the Constitutional Court judge, Justice Salome Bossa, on January 31 until government announced its takeover.
Since then, the university’s main campus in Iganga District has been out of bounds to all students after they recently threatened to strike during a meeting at the university.
The gate remains closed with police officers guarding to prevent students from accessing the campus for fear of destroying the university properties.
Joan Kukundakwe, a fourth year student of Bachelor of Laws, says she paid all her tuition but does not know what to do because no one is coming out to brief them about the next course of action.
“I have to join Law Development Centre (LDC) but there is no sign of relocating us to other universities. They have denied us our results yet they do not demand us any fees balance. There is no sign that the university will reopen for the August intake,” she says.
Edith Osano, an international student of Bachelor of Laws, who has been on internship, was told her training has all been in vain because her university was closed and nobody was supervising her.
The Guild President, Mr Emmanuel Eunyu, says the university was closed and the government announced its takeover but the students’ fate remains unknown.
He adds that currently, lecturers are holding on to students’ results because they demand some arrears.
The university spokesperson, Mr Andrew Balondemu, has since declined to comment on the issue.
But Mr Patrick Kayemba, the Iganga District chairperson, who also sits on the transitional committee, says: “The university officials are not well organised enough to help the students settle down with their studies.”
He adds that government is committed to paying for the affected students in the different universities where they are to be relocated and the money for that cause was passed in the Financial Year 2018/2019, but that the university administrators remain “adamant”.
About 400 nursing students were relocated to Lubega School of Nursing in Iganga, Johnas International College of Health Science in Buikwe and Iganga School of Nursing – from where they sat their national examinations.
Others, however, dropped out because they had to pay additional functional fees, arguing that they are financially incapacitated and had already paid Busoga University before its closure.
Authorities speak out
The NCHE spokesperson, Mr Saul Waigolo, says the university is yet to respond to NCHE’s request for names of more than 2,000 students to be redistributed to other universities.
Efforts to get a comment from the State minister for Higher Education, Dr Chrysostom Muyingo, who also heads the committee appointed by President Museveni, were futile as his phone was switched off by the time of filing this story.
The NCHE head, Prof Opuda revoked the university’s operational licence for its failure to recruit qualified staff, teaching unaccredited courses and graduating students who did not meet the requirements.
President Museveni, in a January 8 letter to Minister of Education Janet Museveni, directed government to takeover two struggling private universities – Mountains of the Moon and Busoga University – and named a committee chaired by Dr Muyingo to oversee the process.
Some of the committee members include: Busoga Diocese Bishop Paul Naimanhye, South Ankole Diocese Nathan Ahimbisibwe, Ankole Diocese Bishop Sheldon Mwesigwa and Busoga Bishop Emeritus Michael Kyomya.
Others are: Dr David Kazungu, Dr Edward Gaamuwa, Mr Patrick Kayemba, Prof John Asibo Opuda and Education Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza.