Law Empowers MUBS to Award Its Own Degrees [opinion]

Makerere University Business School (Mubs) was established in 1997 by the Makerere University Establishment of Constituent College Order 1997.

At that time its mandate was to spearhead the development of business and management education in the country. Later, Mubs was given administrative and financial autonomy through the Makerere University Establishment of Constituent College Amendment Order 2000.

This law gave Mubs an independent council that enabled Mubs to graduate certificate and diploma students for the award of Mubs certificates and diplomas.

The same law empowered Mubs to recruit and promote its own staff with the exception of the Principal and Deputy Principal. For instance, Mubs through the appointments board has been able to appoint and promote its academic staff to senior positions, including professorship.

The Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 as amended in 2003 and 2006 changed the status of Mubs into a special public tertiary institution affiliated to Makerere University for the award of degrees and at the same time saved the organs of Mubs like the academic board and council.

As per Section 132 of the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001 as amended, herein referred to as the Act, the special public tertiary institution status of Mubs provides for the following, among others:

(i) Section 132 (1) provides that at the commencement of this Act, Makerere University Business School shall be deemed to have been affiliated to Makerere University and shall assume the status of an affiliated Public Tertiary Institute under this Act.

This section provided for the affiliation of Mubs to Makerere University by law and so neither Mubs nor Makerere University has a say on whether to continue or terminate the affiliation. It also made Mubs a body corporate by giving it a public tertiary institution status and thus Mubs has its own seal and government subvention vote – vote 138.

(ii) Section 132 (4) of the Act provides that Mubs shall conduct courses leading to the award of degrees, diplomas and certificates by Makerere University under standards provided by the Act and statutes and regulations made under the Act or as may be agreed upon by the School and Makerere University and shall in connection with the awards, jointly conduct examinations leading to the awards, with Makerere University.

This section empowered Mubs as an affiliated institution to Makerere University to run certificate, diploma and degree programmes for the awards of Makerere University. As of today, Mubs only runs degree programmes for the awards of Makerere University.

This section further protects Mubs programmes by requiring that the Act, and statutes and regulations made under this Act or as agreed upon between Mubs and Makerere University guide the running of the programmes offered by Mubs for the awards of Makerere University. So, the current process where Makerere University is reviewing the degree programmes at Mubs without involvement of Mubs is not only illegal but also unfortunate.

The normal process is for the academic units at Mubs to make proposals to Mubs academic board that then makes recommendations to the Mubs council. It’s the Mubs Council to make recommendations to Makerere University Senate on any matter regarding Mubs degree programmes that are for the award of Makerere University degrees.

A committee set up by Makerere University cannot usurp powers of Mubs council. What should be noted is that Mubs academic board and council are independent of Makerere University as provided by law. So to speak, Mubs is not a constituent college of Makerere University but a public tertiary institution affiliated to Makerere University by law.

(iii)Section 132 (5) provides that in addition to the functions of a public tertiary institution under section 76, Makerere University Business School (Mubs) may –

(a) Provide instructions to those admitted to the School and make provision for aancement, transmission and preservation of knowledge relating to commerce or business in undergraduate, postgraduate, higher diploma and ordinary diploma courses professional courses, including, but not limited to, chartered accountants, chartered secretaries, bankers, insurance personnel, managers and other professionals and short-term professional courses.

(c) Conduct examinations for the award of degrees, diplomas, certificates and other awards of the university

(d) Conduct other examinations and award certificates and diplomas and where necessary to revoke awards

(i) Establish linkages and joint programmes with other institutions offering similar courses within and outside Uganda.

As noted above, under Section 132(5) of the Act and specifically Section 132(5) (a), (c), (d) and (i), Mubs has powers to establish and run undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, higher diplomas and undergraduate diplomas and joint diploma and degree programmes for the awards of Mubs.

As of today, Mubs has operationalised the establishment of certificate and diploma programmes for Mubs awards. What Mubs needs to do now is to propose degree programmes through the Mubs academic board and council to the National Council for Higher Education to be accredited for the degree awards of Mubs.

In short, Section 132(5) of the Act, among others, accorded Mubs the status of a tertiary institution that is in the category of other degree-awarding institution such as Uganda Management Institute. If the government is to propose any further amendments to the law in connection with Mubs, then it has to do with transformation of Mubs into a university.

Following a High Court ruling on Misc. Case No. 94 of July 17, 2006, Justice Okumu Wengi ruled that Mubs was an independent university. As much as Mubs is empowered by law to do everything a university does, it is still in the special status category of other degree-awarding institutions that is also affiliated to Makerere University by law until such a time Mubs is declared a university by an Act of Parliament.

What should be noted also is that the word university in Section 132(5) (c) refers to Makerere University Business School and not Makerere University as this section under the Act strictly refers to Mubs. So, after Justice Okumu Wengi’s ruling, the 10-degree programmes in [business related disciplines] that Mubs started and recruited students on were supported by the law if they were for Mubs degree awards.

The only mistake Mubs made was to accept the ruling and declare Mubs a university. Even today, without the Justice Okumu Wengi ruling, Mubs is empowered by law to run its own degree programmes for its own awards.

However, as Mubs council, we have since aised government that Mubs has grown into a multi-campus institution with over five campuses and also overseeing over 15 affiliated institutions. The current student population is over 15,000 and the main campus has over six faculties. This current status demands that Mubs be transformed into a university other, wise we have a calamity in waiting.

The author is chairman of Mubs council.

Source : The Observer

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