“As we plan for possible alternatives, we have decided to gradually close the campus there."
Higher education in the Rwenzori subregion will continue majorly with Private Universities as the Makerere University Council resolved to gradually close the doors of its campus in Fort Portal last week.
Speaking on behalf of the university administration, Prof John Ddumba Sentamu told the New Vision that the campus has been put under gradual closure.
“As we plan for possible alternatives, we have decided to gradually close the campus there. It is open but will soon close,” Ddumba said.
According to Ddumba, the administration of the country’s oldest and most prestigious University was brought to this decision by the expenditure on renting a number of structures.
“The University was spending largely on renting in that area,” he notes.
Prof. Ddumba says that the university’s entry into the academic market in 2010 was rather late since many private Universities had already set up there.
He refers to this late arrival as one of the facts that could have frustrated the operations of the University in Fort Portal, especially when it came to student intake.
And since Universities thrive largely on student intake, the highly competitive market had been dominated by the private players.
Progress so far
Since it was opened in February 2010, the Fort Portal Campus has been serving as an external campus of the University.
The dons had also managed to grow the human resource from three teaching staff and one support staff in 2010 to13 full time and two part time teaching staff supported by three support staff.
Where does this leave the students?
Prof. Ddumba says that despite the gradual closure, the students who were are in their second, third or final year will continue to study and undertake internships.
“We will not take new first year students but the current students are still ours and so are the staff members,” Ddumba emphasizes.
Ddumba says that though the administration cannot rule out relocation of the University, the gradual closure will go on as the fate of the institution is further discussed.
Since the cost of living is much lower in Fort Portal than in Kampala where the main campus is located, this branch had brought Makerere University closer to the people there.
However, as the only public University to have opened in Fort Portal, Makerere’s final closure of this branch will leave Rwenzori sub region without a public University.