THE education watchdog has approved four new universities, bringing the number of public and private institutions of higher education to 26.
The new campuses are Busitema, which is a public university, Lugazi, St. Lawrence and Mutesa I Royal University, which are private-owned.
In 1990, Uganda had only three universitiesâ€”Makerere, Mbarara and the Islamic University of Uganda, a private institution.
The increase in the number of universities, more than eight-fold in less than two decades, has, however, drawn criticism from educators who fear that the mushrooming universities are just money-making institutions, which will lower standards.
â€œWhat is happening is just a university fever, which is not consistent with the demands of the market. They are just schooling and not educating. We are going to have highly-educated people, but who are irrelevant,â€ a senior lecturer of Makerere University, Augustus Nuwagaba, commented.
He said particular attention should be paid to polytechnic education, saying it would ensure competitive skills.
â€œThese are centres of excellence that countries like Singapore and South Korea have used to develop. We need to understand that it is not a question of building universities to suit Senior Six leavers.â€
But the National Council for Higher Education assistant director, Yeko Acato, was optimistic.
â€œThis is a gesture that higher education is expanding. It is a very good thing for the country. Nations like Canada have a population almost equal to ours, but they have 100 universities. The important thing is quality.â€
Referring to Namasagali University, whose license was revoked last year, Acato warned that any university which performs below the expected standards would be closed.
â€œWe have a checklist which ranges from good to unacceptable. If a universityâ€™s rating is constantly unacceptable, that is bad,â€ Acato said.
Namasagali was accused of operating without a governing council, an appointments board and a senate. â€œWe turned away Namasagali due to poor quality.
The students who were enrolled there at that time are free to complete their studies. But we donâ€™t expect Namasagali to admit other students until we have re-approved their status.â€
Out of the 21 private universities, Acato noted, only Uganda Martyrsâ€™ University in Nkozi, Nkumba University and Uganda Christian University have been chartered.
A charter is the final stage of accreditation.
He explained that institutions like the Uganda Management Institute had moved from offering only certificates and diplomas to degrees.
Under the law, such institutions are known as other degree awarding institutions, he noted.
He warned tertiary institutions against illegal affiliation with universities abroad.
â€œIf you choose to be affiliated with a university abroad, you have to seek our permission,â€ he said.
See list of universities
PUBLIC AND PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES
Makerere University Kampala 1922
Mbarara Science of Tech Mbarara 1989
Gulu University Gulu 2002
Kyambogo University Kampala 2002
Busiitema Tororo 2007
Islamic University Mbale 1988
Ndejje Luweero 1992
Nkozi Mpigi 1993
Bugema University Luweero 1994
Busoga University Iganga 1999
Nkumba University Wakiso 1999
Uganda Christian UniversityMukono 1999
Kampala University Kampala 2000
Kampala International Kampala 2001
Aga Khan Kampala 2001
Kumi University Kumi 2004
Kabale Kabale 2005
Mountains of the Moon Kabalore 2005
African Bible College Wakiso 2005
Uganda Pentecostal Kabarole 2005
Fairland Jinja 2005
Bishop Stuart Mbarara 2006
Bishop Barham Kabale 2006
Lugazi University Kampala 2007
Mutesa I Masaka 2007
St. Lawrence University Kampala 2007
Four more universities approved