By Fred Siminyu
Busoga—1, August 2020: Government is in last stages of reopening Busoga University as a public institution, the State Minister for Higher Education, Dr. Chrysostom Muyingo has said.
Dr. Muyingo while on an inspection tour of the University on July 30 told TND News that Busoga University will soon be taken over by government. He said it will be reopened to serve as a public university.
On his fact-finding tour at both the Iganga and Bugiri University campuses, the Minister was accompanied by other officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
He said his team had been sent by the President for a fact finding mission to verify the facts which were contained in a report that was drafted and sent to the Ministry by the University Board of Governors.
“We are here because the President instructed us to come on ground and verify what was presented to us in a report from the Board of Governors and report back our findings,” Dr. Muyingo said.
University officials had petitioned NCHE, asking them to reconsider the closure of the University, citing gross irregularities in the process leading up to the revocation of its operating license.
In a letter addressed to the chairperson of NCHE, and copied to Minister Janet Kataha Museveni, it was stated that new evidence discovered showed that NCHE’s executive director Prof. Opuda Asibo, had with malice, and single-handedly executed the revocation of the University’s license, breaching the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001.
Dr. Muyingo promised to engage the concerned authorities and to ensure that work on the report is urgently addressed to the President for perusal and final action.
However, he expressed appreciation to Busoga Diocese for the support they rendered by offering the land on which the University stands today.
The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) in 2017 closed Busoga University, citing unending irregularities at the institution.
According to a General Notice No.1065 of 2017 published in the gazette, dated December 1, 2017, the University was instructed not to be allowed to advertise or recruit any students henceforth.
“Take notice that the National Council for Higher Education has revoked the provisional license of Busoga University and it has ceased to operate,” reads the notice addressed to the University Vice Chancellor.
The revocation of the license was however not to affect the validity of any certificate, diploma, degree or other academic awards granted by the University when still under the provisional license.
The notice further specified that the reasons for revocation of the provisional license were; absence of adequately qualified staff, admission of students without the requisite admission criteria, illegal affiliation, poor financial health and teaching of unaccredited programmes.
Others were; lack of up-to-date student records, failure to conduct progressive student assessment, and irregular graduation of students who do not qualify.
NCHE Executive Director, Prof John Opuda-Asibo, stated in the notice that the council shall set up a technical committee to work with the University to support their placement of eligible students to a recognized higher institutions.
The closure was prompted by complaints that had been in the previous year filed to the council that Busoga University awarded suspicious degrees to over 1,000 South Sudan and Nigerian nationals, which led to investigations into the matter by NCHE. It was alleged then that the students had only spent about four months at the University.
The closure meant that Busoga University could only reapply for a license to operate again after two years from the date of revocation (November 27, 2017), according to Section 98 (3) of the University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act.
President Museveni however, later, after he had ordered for the takeover of the University by government dispatched a team of auditors to establish an inventory of the University’s assets and liabilities ahead of the planned takeover.
The team from the Auditor General’s office had a duty to as well seek to establish the University’s financial management, staffing and student population records.
The undersecretary in the Ministry of Education, Aggrey Kibenge, who was among the team said the audit is part of recommendations of a committee spearheading the processes of taking over the University as a public institution.
In a January 8, 2018 letter to Education Minister Janet Museveni, the President said takeover of the University by government was necessary to rescue the University.