The police have tasked Makerere University authorities to explain why a sizeable number of their students who were eligible to graduate found their names missing in the final graduation booklet.
This comes after some of the students, who had hoped to be at the institution’s Freedom Square yesterday to graduates in different disciplines were left crestfallen and dejected because their names were not in the final booklet.
“Police have learned of plans by aggrieved students of Makerere University who completed their studies but are missing on the graduation list. Office of the Inspectorate of Government intervened in this matter, Makerere has been tasked to find solutions and also give answers as to why this happened,” Mr. Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said at a mid-morning weekly press briefing yesterday.
In an interview shortly after the first day of graduation, the University Vice-Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, confirmed that some students had missed but didn’t give the exact number. “It’s true there are some students who would have ordinarily graduated but many of them hadn’t been taken to the college boards and senate and one can’t graduate without the authority of the senate. Those missed that deadline and will graduate at the next ceremony. However, if they want their certificates and transcripts, we can give them out to them even before the next graduation,” Prof Nawangwe said.
However, he did not explain how the university will compensate the affected students. Prof Nawangwe said certificates and transcripts for Ph.D. and Masters’s students will be ready after the graduation ceremonies this week while transcripts will be ready by the second week of June.
The university held its 72nd graduation starting yesterday and will end this Friday with at least 12,474 graduating in different disciplines.
Of these, 100 are PhDs, 1,236 Masters Degrees, and 10,998 Bachelor Degrees, while 140 are undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas.
52 percent of graduands are female while 48 percent are male.
Also, 40 of the Ph.D. graduands and 492 of the 1,236 Masters graduands are female, representing 40 percent in each category.
The students who graduated yesterday were from the College of Health Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, and School of Law.
However, for Ms. Maureen Akello, her dream of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Education was shattered after missing the final graduation list yet she had appeared on the draft list.
“My name appeared on the first and second draft graduation lists that were released but unfortunately I could not trace my name on the final list that was posted online. I have reached out to all offices at the campus for help but the college principal told us on Sunday that our names cannot be included in the graduation book because the booklets had been submitted to the President and First Lady who presided over the first day of graduation yesterday,” Ms. Akello said.
Ms. Akello’s woes mirror 20 other students who are facing the same challenge and have since formed a WhatsApp group to find a solution.
From the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), 10 students will miss graduation tomorrow.
Mr. Jude Busima is one of such, who after traveling from Mbale last Friday, was disheartened after his name went missing on the final graduation list.
“The registrar at the School of Statistics just told me that the people who were uploading results did not do it on time, she did not tell me which people but she assured me that I will get a transcript, I will miss the joy of being at the Freedom Square,” Mr. Busima lamented.
Also, the other major affected students are from the College of Education and External studies. They claim that they missed despite having passed all exams and clearing all graduation fees. Their pleas to have them added to the addendum of the main graduation list have not yet been addressed by the university management.
“When I saw my name on the graduation list pinned at college, I was happy that I am going to the graduate, however, my name was missing on the final list that was posted online, I was in the village and I could not make it to Kampala to follow up my issue on time, I am not going to graduate because of an error made by administrators who could not submit our names, why can’t they make for us an addendum?,” asked Timothy Kitimbo, a Bachelor of Science in Education student.
By press time yesterday, concerned human rights lawyers were planning to sue the oldest university in the country on behalf of the affected students, seeking damages.
The college principal, Prof Eria Hisali, claimed to have engaged each of the affected students. Prof Hisali said each case presents its own issue ranging from delayed submission of the final research report and others having missing marks arising from issues with the system. “I personally checked, there is a group whose results are still incomplete, there are those who submitted late and others some of their records were missing, I saw the list of 10 students, I have personally spoken to all of them,” Prof Hisali claimed.
He added: “I spent one hour on Friday engaging with the students and we shared what was possibly wrong and I hope they understood us. Whereas it is regrettable, we shall go ahead and give them their transcripts and certificates and then they will be the first to go on the list for the next graduation.”
When this reporter contacted the Dean of Students, Ms. Winfred Kambumbuli, on the fate of the aggrieved students, she referred us to Dr. Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs or the Academic Registrar.
However, efforts to seek a comment from Mr. Alfred Masikye, who is the University Academic Registrar, were futile as he did not answer our calls.
On May 20, a Kasirye on behalf of the Inspector General of Government (IGG) wrote to Prof Nawangwe asking him to resolve the issues of students who are missing from the graduation list.
Mr. Kasirye informed Prof Nawangwe that the office of IGG had received a complaint from aggrieved students of Makerere University most of whom were from the College of Business and Management Studies. “…the students, some of whom have submitted copies of their certified academic testimonies to our office, have indicated that they have been following up this matter with their respective Faculty Registrars but have since not been helped as their names still do not appear on the final graduation list as displayed on the university notice boards,” Mr. Kasirye wrote.
The letter added: “This office, therefore, advises that all students who qualify to be on the graduation list for the forthcoming 72nd graduation ceremony are considered as a way of promoting the principles of natural justice and the rule of law.”
The Students’ Guild president, Ms. Shamim Nambasa, said she had tried to convince Prof Nawangwe to have the affected students included on the graduation list with little success.
“On Sunday, I reached out to the Vice-Chancellor who said he had received the complaints. He said for the students to be in the book, they had to be approved by the school board and Senate, even the addendum had to be approved by the Senate, since it was Sunday the Senate could not sit then,” she said.
The deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof Umar Kakumba, said management was aware of the 24 students from the School of Education who are missing on the graduation list but noted that their names were submitted a week after the Senate committee which approves awards had already sat and approved the final list.
“Their names were presented after the Senate and Senate committee had sat. The last committee sat on May 11, 2022, to consider undergraduate students and on May 12 to consider graduate students who do masters and PhDs. Any names that were cleared after committee sitting cannot get onto the graduation list,” Prof Kakumba said.
According to the university and other tertiary institutions Act, the senate is the organ of the university that awards degrees.
Growth in research
Makerere Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe informed graduands and their parents that the university continued on a steady course of transforming into a research-led institution in line with their strategic plan for 2020-2030.
He revealed that the government had allocated Shs30b annually for the last three years towards the Research and Innovation Fund (RIF).
“This fund has transformed Makerere tremendously. Of 1,200 applications received, more than 700 research grants have so far been recorded, many of them with potential for commercialization, and a number of policy briefs and manuals have been developed,” he said.
Prof Nawangwe said the university’s potential came out during the Covid-19 pandemic where more than 200 innovations to fight the virus were realized.
“Makerere University now boasts of some of the best laboratories than any university globally, in the areas of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and nanotechnology. These include a level 3 biosecurity lab at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity, one of only three in Africa, and a state-of-the-art Electron Microscope, again one of only three in Africa,” he said.
To boost research, Prof Nawangwe said the university needs at least Shs40b annually to support Ph.D. and Masters Students.
He added that the university needs an allocation of Shs2b annually to promote academic staff.
First Lady Janet Museveni, who is also the Minister of Education and Sports, said the government is committed to supporting the growth of higher education in Uganda, including Makerere University.
“The NRM government treasures Makerere University as a high-value partner in the modernization and transformation of our society. That is why the government’s investments in this institution have increased over the years. For example, between 2009 and 2021, the university’s wage provision increased from Shs49b to Shs206b,” she said in a statement.
The First Lady also said there has also been considerable growth in the University’s non-wage and capital development budgets.
This story first appeared on Monitor