Senate sets govt deadline to solve woes at University of Rwanda

Monday March 13 2017

The University of Rwanda campus in Huye District. The institution has been dogged by funding shortfalls. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA

The University of Rwanda campus in Huye District. The institution has been dogged by funding shortfalls. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

By Leonce Muvunyi

Lawmakers are urging the government to enforce a six-month deadline to ensure that the University of Rwanda (UR) addresses financial shortfalls that are dogging the four year-old institution.

UR was created by merging all public universities and colleges into one institution for better management, efficiency and improving quality of education. But since its creation it has been dogged by financial shortfalls and mismanagement of funds, which are often highlighted by the Auditor-General.

The Upper Chamber of Parliament last week released a report that set a deadline and tasked responsible government institutions to follow through and come up with a new financing scheme for Rwanda’s leading higher learning institution, including alternative financing sources to ensure that shortfalls are addressed.

The university’s administration said tuition fees are not sufficient to meet the university’s financial needs.

“The government has to structure the new financial scheme for the UR to ensure smooth running of its daily duties,” the senate report reads in part.

Senators urged the government to come up with an action plan that will help UR and other higher learning institutions solve their financial problems.

The UR’s funding shortfall is reportedly a result of the government withdrawing direct budget support to the university, with the intention of encouraging the public university to raise funds through tuition and other charges levied on students.

Financial incompatibilities have led to different institutions and colleges under UR finding themselves short of funds, which affects their infrastructure development programmes.

According to the Senate Committee on Social Affairs and Human Rights and Petitions, the funding shortage has led to UR abandoning two major construction projects.

UR is also struggling with a Rwf2 billion debt it owes varsity lecturers for overtime as well as pending payment to service providers. Currently, UR is made up of six colleges across 23 campuses countrywide. 

According to the committee, education officials said the government needs to make the university self-sustaining, without relying on government support.