JKUAT, KU campuses in Rwanda face closure

The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology campus in Kigali, Rwanda. [Joshua Maxwell Agwanda, Standard]

The fate of two top Kenyan public universities hangs in the balance following sweeping higher education reforms taking place in Rwanda.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) Kigali campus is facing closure for performing poorly in a recent higher education quality audit. All its academic programmes have been suspended.

Kenyatta University – which has been in Kigali for about two years – is yet to open its doors, with Rwanda Government officials saying it must meet the accreditation guidelines.

Six-month ultimatum

JKUAT has been given a six-month ultimatum to comply.

A report by Rwanda Higher Education Council (HEC) – an equivalent of Kenya’s Commission for University Education (CUE) – seen by the the Saturday Standard says the university failed to comply with critical higher education programmes standards.

“Suspend the delivery and further recruitment in all the programmes until such a time that the institution demonstrates the adequacy to deliver the programmes in line with audit recommendations within a period of six months or earlier from March 10, 2017,” reads a ministerial instruction issued to JKUAT.

This means that the university has until September this year to comply with government requirements or face closure.

“Failure to comply within the given time frame will lead to permanent closure of the programmes,” reads a document signed by the Executive Director of Higher Education Council, Dr Mugisha Innocent.

Rwanda Minister of Education Musafiri Malimba said suspending courses is in line with protecting quality of education.

“This has been done for students sake. Better to be patient other than obtaining a useless degree. Those who will be able to return when the schools reopen will witness remarkable reforms,” said Dr Malimba.

He further said that the Ministry will support students who want to transferred to other schools to continue their courses.

Kenya High Commissioner, John Mwangemi, said he has scheduled a meeting with JKUAT leadership next week.

He however said university councils must get necessary approvals to operate in Rwanda.

“Ours is to ensure good relationship between the two countries for investors. But it has to be done through proper ways because there are consequences,” he said.

He said universities must also spell out their long-term plans. “I am aware Mount Kenya University came in and rented a building but they have now constructed a state-of-the-art campus in Kigali. And I am sure the two universities also know what their plan is.

The move by Kenyan public universities to set campuses in Tanzania and Rwanda has been questioned by members of Parliament.

In March 30, 2016 the Public Investments Committee wrote to JKUAT requesting the university to submit information on justification by the institution to invest in Rwanda and Tanzania.

New revenue

In her response, Vice Chancellor Mabel Imbuga said the move was guided by strategy to adopt new revenue streams and the available opportunity presented by the East African Protocol.

She said: “JKUAT Kigali campus has 1,822 number of students and a revenue stream of Sh190 million in the year 2015.”

JKUAT Kigali campus was established in 2012. “It is noteworthy that at the time of establishment of JKUAT Kigali campus the Universities Act (2012), Universities Regulations (2014) had not been effected,” said Prof Imbuga.

When the Saturday Standard visited the JKUAT Kigali campus this week, all students were asked to stay at home until further notice.

“As you are all aware, there are some Government requirements that the campus has to meet before learning can resume...learning will resume as soon as the said requirements are met,” reads a text message to the students.

JKUAT Vice Chancellor Prof Mabel Imbuga however said the audit was done before they moved into a new building. “They had asked us to get a bigger place and we delayed a bit because of some technicalities with the contractor. The first building we had wished to purchase had some issues and partitioning took a long time for the new place we bought,” she said.

Prof Imbuga further said the university has appointed six additional professors from Kenya to teach there. “These are key thematic leaders and in addition to other PhD holders who are there we now have enough personnel,” she said. She said her team held a meeting with Dr Mugisha yesterday and the HEC will visit the new building next week. She said the university offers Agriculture and engineering programmes.