Closure of varsities: 3,000 students stranded after

The closure, last week, of five universities over inadequate staff and training facilities left more than 3,000 students stranded.


The Higher Education Council (HEC) closed five varsities permanently and advised affected students to seek admissions elsewhere.

However, some institutions and students have described the decision as unjust, saying the closure is not the solution.


“HEC rarely conducted audits to assess what was going wrong; and we were; surprised by the; international auditors who had no idea of how far we have come to achieve the little we had; we wished to grow slowly and we were not doing too badly. HEC would have thought otherwise and encouraged us to improve; said a rector from one of the closed universities, who preferred anonymity in order speak freely.

The rector said his university is supporting their former students to join other institutions.

A student who only identified herself as Uwamariya said the decision affected them most.

“We enroll in universities knowing; they are accredited. But I was shocked to hear that my university was closed,” she said.

HEC officials said the decision was part of efforts to ensure that all universities operating in the country offer quality education.

Abdullah Baguma, the director of academic quality at HEC, told The New Times last week that; a total of 3,031 students were affected by the closure.

Shortly after the higher learning institutions were suspended early in March; Baguma said HEC had put in place a mechanism to allow affected students; to seek admission in other universities.

However, the number of those admitted to new institutions is not clear.

“Students were allowed to indicate different institutions of their choice, all we did was to have those lists submitted to different universities,” Baguma told The New Times.

“We don’t know the exact number of students who have shifted to other universities and how many had decided to wait until the final decision of their (respective) institutions.”

Baguma said HEC had already communicated to several institutions to expect the new applicants.

“What we did first of all, we gave a deadline to the affected institutions to have returned academic documents to all students and we are expecting their report today (last Friday). Once we receive the records; we will give time for students to apply and later follow up to see; whether all the affected students have been; supported enough,”

Criteria set

Some universities that The New Times contacted admitted having received; new applicants but could not tell how many had been; taken in.

Mike Karangwa, the director of communication at the University of Rwanda, said they are admitting new students from closed varsities but they will be offering catch-ups for some students who had not taken all the courses.

He said, among the criteria, a student should have acquired 24 points in two principle subjects for those who did sciences at secondary school and want to study STEM courses and for non-STEM, a student should have at least 18 points in two subjects.

“After assessing the achievements at secondary level, we will then check how to support them, some will do catch ups to be at the same level as our students. We don’t have cases of students being; made to repeat; but it can happen when we realise the courses are different,” he said.

Fr Dr Fabien Hagenimana, the rector of INES Ruhengeri, said; they need to check entry requirements, analyse students files and if one has covered 80 percent will be; supported to redo remaining modules and move with others but if one has covered say 40 percent, they will have to repeat the year.

He said, however, that they need further discussions for students in the final years because the law does not allow enrolling one left with a small part with studies because the degree will belong to the university which enrolled them before.

The suspension followed an external audit recommended by the government to assess challenges affecting higher education.

After the assessment, ten varsities were; given six months to comply, after which; an assessment was; conducted; according to officials.

Thereafter, HEC worked with professional bodies on a fresh assessment after some affected universities reported to have fulfilled the requirements.