Tough rules spell doom for private colleges ahead of re-opening

Wednesday July 15 2020

Graduands at a graduation ceremony. Several

Graduands at a graduation ceremony. Several universities are understood to be in trouble with the education regulator Photo | Cyril Ndegeya  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Institutions of higher learning risk closure for the next academic year if they fail to prove that they are financially sustainable to offer quality education, Rwanda Today has learnt.

Particularly, a number of private higher learning institutions whose main source of funding has been tuitions and with no alternative funding avenues could find the going tough as the education regulator lays out conditions before they reopen.

Ministry of Education last week closed INATEK, Eastern Kibungo-based Institute of Agriculture, Technology, and Education faulting it for failing to resolve different challenges related to poor quality of teaching identified by audits.

The academy, which had been running since 2013 is one of many whose financial woes were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, thereby resorting to both suspending staff and cutting salaries for others.

A couple of other universities are understood to be in trouble with the education regulator over similar grounds.

Details seen by Rwanda Today indicate that all colleges in the country have until August 15 to submit proof of their financial sustainability to the Higher Education Council (HEC).

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In a letter dated June 24 addressed to all higher learning institutions also require proof that they have installed hand washing facilities around institutions’ compound, and have in place a clearly designed students’ evacuation plan in case of another outbreak that could necessitate taking students back home.

Managers of universities who spoke to Rwanda Today said that unlike public universities that get funds from treasury, revenues of private institutions were expected to fall significantly on reduced student numbers and tuition payments as families’ incomes were hit by Covid-19 pandemic.

Reservations

Many, however, have reservations about tapping into the economic recovery fund, which they indicate could plunge them further into financial difficulties that may affect quality as they concentrate on paying the funds.

“We need to be realistic; we expect gaps in terms of the number of students who will report, so even the resources that were expected will go low. If I take credit it means I will have to cut back half the quality supposed to offer to make sure I handle the loan,” said Dr Fabien Hagenimana, vice Chancellor at INES-Ruhengeri.

He said the university preferred to devise other funding plans to cover staff salaries, research costs, and all other services that their institutions require.

“For us, we plan to stop infrastructure development like closing here and there on the investment funding to cover operational costs,” he added.

The University also banks on money from different schemes with partners.

On its side, the University of Kigali indicated that it anticipated its existing revenues to pick up, citing signs of the rising number of students transferring from financially challenged higher learning institutions “including those that are being closed” according to Arthur Ahimbisibwe,acting vice- chancellor in charge of academics.

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