Academics are always visible in the world of science, literature, the arts, business, politics and Academia which is their natural province where they serve as experts, analysts, commentators, advisers and high-level policy makers.
But whatever standing they may have in the eyes of undergraduates or even in the corridors of national power, most professors possess surprisingly little influence in their own schools’ decision-making processes.
Faculty members are left only with the responsibility of teaching and designing new programs whose proceeds are enjoyed by a self-perpetuating class of self-important bureaucrats who care nothing about students and even less about the people who do the actual work of teaching them.
Power on campus is wielded mainly by university bureaucrats whose names and faces are seldom recognized by students or recalled by alumni.
A good example can be the case of the College of humanities and social sciences to which I belong. A number of new programs have been designed which is viewed by the “dean lets”as a measure of increasing revenue to service the university that is surviving on shoe string budgets.
Yet it is quite surprising to find a lecturer from the same college spending 8-9months without being paid. These lecturers offer their rich and wide knowledge and expertise with utmost commitment.
They strain their voices to teach classes that have no public address systems.They eat chalk at a university that has remained locked in the 20th century teaching tools.
They commute every day on their hard earned savings in the name of fulfilling what their profession demands.This is the tragedy that has befallen a once respected and adored Makerere don.
Why are lecturers increasingly sidelined in the field where they possess over-riding power?Yet they are in a better position to know what is good for their students and charged with the responsibility of grooming complete and all-round graduate.
In a public university like Makerere,administrators command a lot of influence in streamlining policies that affect the students. Do we need administrators?Oh Yes! but do we need those added layers of administration which are adding to the cost of education?
I mean those seasoned public officials who are bent on profit maximization at the expense of scholarship and see the purpose and ultimate goal of the university as helping students and treating them like customers.
They are always locked in strategic plans,administrative retreats and workshops and committee meetings of which many do not have anything to do with improving actual needs of the students and even when they tried to address the plight of students they do so with disastrous effects.
“The Faculty” is on the decline, it is simplistic to blame this on the rise of administration. Universities as organizations are changing over time, in large part because they are reacting to changes in society. Education is no longer for the elite– arguable a good thing.
But obtaining a degree is becoming the ticket to the rich students who pay for their laziness by hiring mercenaries to do course works,proposals and internship reports.
Like it or not, today universities need students to survive. And in an incredibly competitive market, what is compelling a student to go to a school isn’t who their professors are.
It is who that school will help them become in order to move up,pursue undeserving good career and maintain societal status. You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t stop it from being true.
The writer is OTAFIIRE HENRY. Aspiring President Makerere Ethics and Human rights Association. email@example.com.