The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has warned that underfunding threatens the quality of higher education and education service delivery in the country.
The Executive Director of NCHE, Mary Okwakol, used a public lecture sitting call for more funding for higher education in Uganda. She lamented that the education sector is not receiving the threshold investment required.
The public lecture was held as part of the celebrations to mark 20 years of NCHE existence. It was held under the theme ‘financing of and investment in higher education in Uganda.’
She noted that the NDP III emphasizes strengthening of the NCHE through adequate funding and staffing. This, she said, will improve quality assurance in Universities and other institutions of higher learning.
She highlighted that underfunding is symptomized by the low enrolment estimated at 268,686 students in 2020/2021, resulting in a gross enrollment ratio of 5.9% which is much below the sub-Saharan average of 9.4%.
“NCHE is engaging you as key higher education experts and stakeholders to examine the importance of finance and investment as the fundamental enablers of the sub-sectors in Uganda and also provide a platform for reviewing, developing and implementing appropriate higher education financing,”
Dr Joseph Muvawala, the Executive Director of the National Planning Authority (NPA), condemned the unit cost funding of a student at the university level. He said this has affected institutions of higher learning.
Muvawala noted that it’s cheaper to educate a university student compared to one at the primary or secondary level.
“These things are working together. You don’t get enough finances, we cut corners. We cut corners; we produce a graduate who is not good enough. Financing is the cause,” he said.
He also challenged institutions of higher learning to look at how they acquire and utilize their resources. He said tuition is not the only financial way of sustaining higher education.
“We propose that we start thinking of other ways like endowments. In the paper, in America, endowments equate to the GDP of this country alone. We also think there’s something not going well with alumni of these universities. How many have ever contributed to Makerere University,” he added.