NCHE Proposes Central Admission Process for Universities

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) is advocating for a centralized admission process for all tertiary institutions, including private and public universities. 

NCHE board chairperson Prof. Eli Katunguka explains that once learners have completed their secondary education and are ready to join university, they would choose the universities and programs they wish to enrol in. The universities, both private and public, would then participate in the centralized admission process after specifying the available capacity for each of their accredited programmes.

Prof. Katunguka, also the Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, believes that the approach will ensure quality assurance, eliminate unlicensed institutions, and prevent learners from enrolling in unaccredited programs. He was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of an event organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the National Council for Higher Education.

Currently, there is a public university joint admission board whose scope is limited to selecting Government of Uganda-sponsored students at public universities based on their performance at the previous level of education. Given that government sponsors about 4,000 students every year, other students go through individual university admission criteria which differ from one university to another. 

But Katunguka says that the centralized admission process can also address the issue of universities admitting students who fall short of the minimum academic requirements, while also providing career guidance to students.

He emphasized that the centralized admission process would allow boards to guide learners towards programs that align with the future human resource needs of the country. For example, if the country anticipates a demand for 100 teachers, this information would be communicated to both the learners and institutions, enabling them to make informed decisions before enrolling in a particular program.

URN has learnt that the issue had already been informally discussed in the Vice Chancellors Forum prior to the announcement by the National Council for Higher Education.

Reports indicate that the proposal met resistance from some private universities who argued that they preferred to have the autonomy to admit students as they deemed fit. Additionally, some public universities saw the move as a government effort to control private admissions, which they had come to rely on as a source of revenue.

The proposal for a centralized admission process for universities comes at a time when a similar approach at the secondary level is not working effectively and is viewed as merely a formality, with public schools bypassing it. In contrast, private schools have consistently refused to take part.

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