Sunday, March 23, 2008

University Office: What for?

Malawi has two public Universities. Mzuzu and University of Malawi with its five colleges and a central administration in Zomba. I have wondered why we still have the University Office. It is an example of how wasteful our policy makers can be. I can say they are not forward looking, a disease that most Malawians suffer from.

The University Office to my knowledge served its purpose and it is high time we dismantled it. Having two Universties with 12 million people is not healthy. The Constituent colleges must have the autonomy that they deserve. Establishing a new University is difficult. I reckon that Chanco, Poly, Bunda, College of Medicine& School of Nursing become independent Universities. We would have six Universities overnight with Mzuni. What about that? So simple. We can take it from there and let the Universties expand by drawing lessons from Mzuni growth. Somehow someone is making us believe that we still need University Office.An MP can move a private members bill seeking to change the University Act and propose bills establishing new Universities out of current colleges. We can silence the selfish cynics. Just because a few jobs will be on the line should not stop us in making decisions that are in the interest of the nation. University Office is a very big white elephant with a malignant tumor and must go.

I would rather the University Office was transformed into a regulatory and quality assurance organisation with mandate over all forms of tertially education just lik MACRA, Malawi Bureau of Standards etc. It should become an institution that works under the Minsitry of High education. Its current role is not necessary. The colleges have their own accounting systems, adminstrative structures that must be allowed to function independently and effectively.

On another note, I have wondered the role the various Research Centres play in the learaning process. Looks they like they are divorced from UNIMA lecture rooms. Centre for Social Research, Agriculture Policy Research unit, Language, Education Research. I would love to have them engaged in teaching and have research oriented degrees and admit students than is th current practice of just doing some surveys and publish th works. It would be intellectually enhancing to engage students directly in research training and enrich the learning process. This is the essence of modern learning. It values research and would bring that excitement in learning that currently lacks in our University classrooms.

What do you reckon? Take this to capital hill and state house please.

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