Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Makerere University has suspended services of external examiners for all its degree programs due to inadequate financing. The decision was announced by the University Secretary Charles Barugahare min a communication to colleges.
The decision to suspend the external examination was reached by the University’s Central Management Finance Committee at its May 29 meeting. It was based on a report indicating that the university had registered a four billion Shillings’ budget shortfall.
“Management agreed that in view of the financial constraints, external examinations should be deferred until management provides further guidance. You are accordingly informed of the management decision,” Barugahare said.
Every Department at Makerere must have an external examiner who must visit the department at least once in each academic year, for at least one week.
The external examiner looks at the way the process of teaching, examinations and grading is done and samples examination answer sheets and results-sheets to check for any errors, consistency, checks the syllabus in view of the trends in the subject matter globally and writes a report for improvement. The external examiner is appointed and may serve up to three consecutive years, after which he/she is changed.
All master’s dissertations and PhD dissertations at Makerere must also be sent to a senior academic outside of Makerere to review and write a report if they are worth the award. The external examiner may give comments to be addressed before the dissertation is considered worthy of the award.
The news of suspending external examination at Makerere has been received as shocking. A senior academic staff who requested not to disclose his identity wondered where the money that students pay for external examination goes.
“But students pay this money. No student can submit a dissertation and it is received for examination before paying all dues and in the breakdown, examination fees are explicitly stated,” a senior academic staff said.
The source added that the move implies that No master or PhD student will graduate because their dissertations can’t be examined or that the University will waive external examinations, which are an external check on quality assurance.
The source also discloses that undergraduate students will be largely affected since their work is likely not to be externally examined at raising quality control concerns.
According to Dr Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, the chairperson of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association –MUASA, who is currently on a six months’ suspension from the university, an external examination is a critical aspect of the institution’s assessment as a University of Makerere’s calibre.
“It’s a quality assurance matter which the university should take seriously. We also have an external examination for PhDs and Master’s thesis which could be affected by this financial crisis leading to low graduation rates.” Dr Kamunyu said.