What You Need To Consider Before Selecting An Institution Of Higher Learning

What You Need To Consider Before Selecting An Institution Of Higher Learning

In preparation to join institutions of higher learning, students and parents have customarily focused on the cost of the degree and diploma they are interested in.

Little or no attention is paid to finding out if the institution of choice is certified to operate.

 It is after so many years of studies and having their degree questioned by an employer or potential employer, or when running for political office that they will establish that there were awarded a worthless degree or diploma. Time and millions of shillings invested in education will have all have gone to waste.  

There is a total of 243 accredited institutions in the country both public and private. For universities, there are nine accredited public universities and 53 private universities currently licensed.

The Public Universities in Uganda Include, Makerere ,Kyambogo,Mbarara University of Science and Technology,Busitema,Gulu,Kabaale,Lira,Makerere Business School, Muni Universities

The Private Universities in Uganda Include:

Private Universities and their Locations

Among the other degree-awarding institutions, there is one public institution UMI, and 16 private ones. And for the Tertiary institutions, there are 19 public entities including all military academies and 124 private tertiary institutions. Here is how to establish if the institution is verified.

Cross-check with National Council For Higher Education

The Uganda National Council for Higher Education was established by law as the regulator of higher education.  

The National Council For Higher Education is mandated to guide the establishment of institutions of higher learning as well as ensure the delivery of quality and relevant education by licensed institutions. 

Uganda Christian University

Saul Waigolo the National Coucil For Higher Education ‘s Public Relations Officer says many students and parents have been duped into joining unlicensed institutions because they never bothered to check if the institution is licensed. 

“If you pick interest in an institution, find out from National Council For Higher Education if it is accredited,” says Waigolo. 

He says accredited institutions have their license pinned to their office wall or board.  

“If you still have doubts come to NCHE and ask about the institution of interest. If you cannot walk in call and ask for the accreditation status of the institution of your choice.” 

There is also information on all accredited institutions on the NCHE website and the accredited programs they are supposed to offer. 

“If you are going to spend millions on a fake program, at a sham university/ institution, why not spend at least some airtime to make that call and find out from NCHE if the institution is accredited or not, and save yourself from being conned,” advises Waigolo. 

“There is need to be very careful when joining an institution of higher learning. There are even accredited institutions that offer unaccredited programs.” 

Also One of the Private Universities in Uganda

“As you interest yourself in the institution interest yourself in the programs. Pick interest as a student or parent, find out if the Institution is accredited. Avoid the tendency of saying I do not have the time to visit.” 

“If you cannot come to the NCHE physically, make a phone call or at least visit the NCHE website to know which institution is accredited and offering what program,” he says. 

According to the NCHE ‘s Public Relations Officer, there are even incidences of accredited institutions running unaccredited programs. Several found breaking the rules have been shut down. 

Some of the institutions that have had their licenses revoked include Busoga, and Namasagali University. 

“We have used an iron hand, on accredited institutions not following the set guidelines and standards. We have punished them by shutting them down. We have our compliance unit that runs the checks and we always find the culprits.” 

He says accredited institutions must meet or have what is required to teach. What is required include among others qualified lecturers, laboratories for science programs, and libraries with books relevant to a program 

“If your institution has never been accredited it’s unfortunate the qualification will not be recognized. You suffer with it for the rest of your life. We don’t bend on that. The fake paper is between you and the fake institution,” he says. 

Attend exhibitions 

According to Waigolo, NCHE has availed information in the media but some students and parents do not take interest in it. The NCHE has also held exhibitions. 

It was only last year due to lockdown measures to slow the COVID-19 pandemic that no activity was held to support students and parents verify institutions of their interest.  

But, this year starting November 12, the NCHE will hold a virtual exhibition to inform students and parents of the accredited institutions and accredited programs they offer.  

Take interest in the virtual exhibition. “If you are near our offices walk in and ask for information on institutions you are interested in to avoid fraud,” 

Visit the district offices 

NCHE has printed booklets with a list of all accredited institutions. Distribution of these booklets that had been halted due to COVID-19 is being resumed but now at the district level to reach more students and parents. 

Makerere University

“We are now taking these booklets to all district headquarters and municipal offices so that students and parents can access information on accredited institutions and their programs more easily,” says Waigolo. 

NCHE is using government structures and human resources at the district who are the District Education Officers (DEOs) to make this information readily available.                

A student or parent can go to the DEO who will avail the booklet with information on all accredited institutions. 

“We shall also use cultural kingdoms and chiefdoms in the country who have education officers to avail this information. In addition to churches. We have realised people are not coming to NCHE. We want to reach everyone to protect them from being cheated/robbed by institutions that are not accredited. But in future, we will go to sub-county level to reach more students and parents.” 

“If there is still some doubts or additional information required, then a parent or student  can still call NCHE or come to us,” advises Waigolo. 

Why it is important to pick interest 

According to the NCHE, it is difficult to fight fake institutions; most of them are briefcase institutions. 

“Someone rents a small room in town and only has a desk when you enter the office, but puts a big billboard outside. After collecting money from unsuspecting students and parents, they can vanish at any time without a trace,” warns Waigolo. 

Kyambogo University

“We do not look for these fake institutions, for us, we deal with what we know which is to give accreditation to institutions which qualify. Those who do not conform to the standards we set, we close and we have closed a good number of them.” 

Waigolo says for those who enroll in non-accredited institutions when the time comes and employers mandate them to come to NCHE to verify their papers as a condition to keep their jobs when it is discovered the papers are fake, they are handed to the police.  

“At this point, the employee has no choice but to come to NCHE for clearance that their employer wants. Once the papers are fake we hand them to police and with investigations that kickoff they can lead the police to the institution and people who gave them fake papers and action is taken.” 

“But for now it is still a challenge, we don’t know who is issuing what, and people are forging papers using existing institution names. All in all, it is important to avoid unlicensed institutions,” he says. Your qualifications will never be recognized. 

Categories of accredited institutions 

They are three, universities, other degree-awarding institutions, and tertiary institutions. 

The universities offer degrees’ diplomas and even certificates although the certificates do not fall under NCHE supervision but UNEB. 

Other degree-awarding institutions are not universities but award degrees. They are specialized institutions that focus on a particular field of study.  

For example, Law Development Center (LDC) specializes in law, Uganda Management Institute (UMI) specializes in management, and   Multitech Business Schools specializes in Business. 

Tertiary institutions offer diplomas and certificates. They include the National Teachers Colleges(NTCs), the Health Training Institute, and all the military academies

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