Higher Education Council (HEC) says it will impose tough requirements for investors who want to open or operate private universities in Rwanda, in a bid to improve the quality of education in higher learning institutions in the country.
The expected regulations from HEC will be introduced after three private universities were closed due to what the Ministry of Education said were administrative challenges that compromised the quality of education.
Dr. Rose Mukankomeje, Director General of HEC, said during ‘Ubyumva ute’, a daily KT radio talkshow, that the Government of Rwanda cannot afford to see more private universities being established but they continue delivering substandard education services to the Rwandan children.
“We are soon releasing regulatory requirements which people who want to start private universities and even those already in operation, must adhere to. The regulatory framework will be much stricter to avoid past mistakes,”
“You find owners of the university expecting to pay lecturers salaries on loans or student tuition, that means, if students do not pay, teachers and other staff will not be paid, this is a mistake we do not want to see happening again,” Dr Mukankomeje said.
Dr Mukankomeje said that the decisions will be tough but the purpose will be to improve the quality of education, adding that students should also be vigilant about the quality of education they get or the universities they are joining.
Some of the tighted rules cited by Dr. Mukankomeje include refusing investors to use bank loans to open up private universities and only allowing investors to open universities that operate in their facilities, without renting the building.
Other strict decisions include requiring an investor to present a sustainable financial capacity plan to pay staff for a given period without entirely depending on loans and student tuition before they are permitted to establish a private university.
“A university depending entirely on student tuition or loan risks a financial crisis when students are few or don’t pay on time. These are some of the mistakes committed by the closed universities, ”
“We are also planning to recruit more staff to strengthen the inspection process of universities. These new inspection rules will have zero tolerance of lack of fulfilment of requirements. We have learned from previous mistakes,” Dr. Mukankomeje said.
Last year and this year, the University of Kibungo (UNIK), which was recently closed, was in the news over debts and salary arrears totaling to Rwf2.5 billion.
Explaining the cause of debts in 2019, Prof. Egide Karuranga, the vice-chancellor of the University said that these debts arose due to the big number of shareholders taking money out of the university instead of reinvesting it.
“There has been a lot of misunderstandings in the closed universities, owners interfere in the administration and accountant departments, they take out the money paid by students and refuse to buy basic academic requirements needed at school,” Dr. Theoneste Ndikubwimana, Head of academic quality, accreditation and standards at HEC said.
“For example, INATEK has been offering science courses, but the owners had refused buying materials for the laboratory,”
“Such disagreements were realized in INATEK and Christian University of Rwanda, owners kept getting out cash than what they reinvest, that’s when the institutions started crippling.” Dr. Ndikubwimana said.
Christian University of Rwanda and Indangaburezi College of education were this month closed for alleged administrative challenges that compromised the quality of education.
The closed Universities followed the University of Kibungo (UNIK) formerly Institute of Agriculture, Technology, and Education of Kibungo (INATEK) which was also closed on June 30, 2020, for the same alleged mistakes, mainly administrative challenges.
Similarly, former Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, the founder of Christian University of Rwanda, was arrested and charged for breach of trust and issuing of bounced cheques. His legal troubles stem from the financial challenges of the university.