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NCHE Considers Bridging Programme for Arts Students to Pursue Science Courses

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is considering a bridging programme that will enable learners who offer arts subject combinations at A-Level to pursue undergraduate science courses. 

Maria Nakachwa Ssemakula, the acting Director of Quality Assurance and Accreditation at NCHE says that the proposal is part of the reviews intended to increase accessibility and flexibility in the higher learning sub-sector bench-making from several countries in the region and beyond.   

“We think if a programme is well designed, there is a possibility of having learners with art background to take on science programmes.  the council is still studying the feasibility of such a bridging programme,” Nakachwa says.   

Currently, Ugandan universities directly admit A-level students who obtain at least two principal passes for undergraduate programmes, with the other entry route being a diploma. However, every course has its own specific admission criteria and requirements, with no possibility for arts students to cross into sciences. 

Recently, the council introduced the Higher Education Certificate- HEC in Humanities, Physical Sciences and biological science. The now famous programme provides learners with the basic introductory knowledge, cognitive and conceptual tools and practical techniques for further higher education studies in their chosen field of study. 

Prof Mary Okwakol, the NCHE Executive Director says HEC is intended for students who have successfully completed the Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) or its equivalent but may not have attained sufficient grades to enrol for Diplomas or Degree programmes.

For instance, if a PCB (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) student at A’ Level obtained only one principal pass, they are given nine months of training with a specific focus on the basic competence needed. If they pass, they are admitted to an undergraduate science programme. In a similar way, a student who was studying HEG (History, Economics, and Geography) at A’ Level can be admitted to a Higher Education Certificate in Humanities and later enrol for an undergraduate Arts programme.

Prof Okwakol, however, emphasizes that currently under this qualification a learner that was pursuing an Arts combination cannot cross over into science programmes. 

But, Nakachwa says that as Higher Education Certificate goes for review, there might be a need to include components that will prepare learners who could have pursued humanity subjects with the required basic knowledge and competence in a particular field to make them take on science subjects or even science students who need to cross towards humanities. 

She explains that this is already being done in make countries pointing out Russia, and the United States among other countries where several Ugandans who did arts subjects have gone and done a bridging programme and later on enroll on science programmes either on a diploma level or even degree. 

The quality assurance director however adds that if this is to be approved, the bridging programme needs to be intense and carefully scrutinized.                     

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