By Amos Kareithi
Kenya: Education authorities in Uganda have sealed the fate of 66 university students who had been awarded PhD degree certificates by a leading private university.
After scrutinising the degrees, a four-member taskforce constituted by the National Commission for Higher Education, has concluded that the 22 degrees awarded by Kampala International University were worthless.
The taskforce, which carried out its work between January and March 25 this year, concluded that the university had not lived up to the standards and had even allowed some supervisors with no PhD to supervise students.
The controversial degrees were awarded between 2011 and 2012 and the verdict published in a paid-up advertisement published in a regional weekly. “The 22 dissertations were found to be unworthy by NCHE because of serious academic and professional deficiencies,” it stated.
According to the NCHE another 36 dissertations had been found to have major academic and professional deficiencies which called for major revisions before they could be recognised by the accreditation body.
The taskforce chairman of Opuda Asubo had been quoted by a section of Ugandan Press earlier explaining that the taskforce found seven supervisors without PhDs while others had papers from non-recognised universities.
Asubo had told New Vision on March 27 that many supervisors had questionable experience and lacked expertise in the areas of supervision.
Further, the NCHE also found eight more dissertations required only minor corrections before they could be recognised.
Caused a storm
The taskforce recommended the eight candidates need two to three months to correct their errors, while 36 needed between six months to one year to improve their work before awards.
As for the 22 the taskforce recommended they start their programmes in a year or two.
This is a major blow to the privately owned university which has been trying to position itself as one of the leading institutions in East Africa.
KIU has a heavy presence in Kenya, where thousands of students have either crossed to Uganda or studied in some of its campuses in the country to upgrade their education.
Last year, the university caused a storm in academic circles after it emerged it had awarded 40 students PhD degrees.
This development caused consternation in learning circles where experts were concerned by such a high number of PhD holders in a relatively short period.
Earlier this month, when the quality of the PhD certificates was doubted, KIU fired the first salvo claiming NCHE did not have the powers to cancel or award degrees.
In a paid-up advertisement published on the April6-13 of The East African, the university contended that NCHE had established standards for evaluating, monitoring, teaching and examination of PhD programes in Uganda.
To cure this anomaly and correct the inconsistencies the university claimed NCHE had accepted to appoint four independent assessors.
The assessors who were to be appointed in consultation with KIU were to ensure “inconsistencies are addressed and this may form the basis for establishing required PhD standards for the country.”