Makerere University is facing an acute shortage of teaching space and has resorted to using dining rooms for lectures.
The available classrooms at the university do not conform to the standards set by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), a report by the Auditor General (AG) has revealed.
The Value for Money Audit report on Management of Academic Programmes by Makerere University, March 2012 also discovered that student admissions were not in line with available space. It warned that this would affect the teaching and learning process.
Universities are required to provide facilities including computers, lecture and tutorial rooms, staff and student common-rooms equipped with indoor recreation facilities, science and computer labs, library and engineering workshops.
The AG’s office was stirred into action because despite spending sh377.8b the university still has inadequate academic staff, limited research, unaccredited academic programmes, and inadequate physical facilities.
“These challenges are all affecting the teaching and learning process hence lowering the quality of education offered.” The AG’s office deemed it necessary to conduct the audit to confirm existence of the challenges, ascertain underlying causes and suggest recommendations.
According to NCHE guidelines, the ideal classroom space per student is 2.5 square metres, acceptable is one square metre, anything below that is unacceptable.
For instance, agricultural and environmental sciences college had 1,527 students with a classroom space per student of 0.8 square metres. The College of Humanities with 7,737 students had a space allocation per student of 0.7 square metres. The College of Business and Management Studies was far below the acceptable allocation.
Through interviews with staff in the estates department, college custodians and scrutiny of work plans and audited accounts, the problem of classroom space was attributed to inadequate funding. Only 66% of the budgeted funds for construction of non-residential buildings were received in the period under review.
Management explained that there was minimal capital development support from the central government yet over 80% of the internally generated revenue was being used for operational expenses, they said.
Management was of the view that the government’s idea of an open university would go a long way in minimising space problems saying to tag admission to facilities would reduce access to higher education.
By Joyce Namutebi, The New Vision