Zimbabwe has outlined plans for every university lecturer to be in possession of a PHD by 2015, and is reconsidering salary discrepancies between university and college lecturers. And the country’s higher education regulator has cracked down on state-run and foreign universities deemed to be offering sub-standard programmes.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee on education last week, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge told lawmakers that he was opposed to salary discrepancies between university and college lecturers.
The former earn US$1,700 a month against the latter’s less than US$300 even though they possess the same qualifications.
As previously reported, college lecturers at nearly 30 teacher colleges, polytechnics and vocational training centres staged a one-week strike last month and only suspended it to pave the way for further negotiations.
The minister added that government was planning to raise the bar in terms of lecturer qualifications.
“We are working hand in hand with the Zimbabwe Council of Higher Education (ZIMCHE) on that. It has got to do with quality. By 2015 it would be PhDs only,” said Acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa.
In a separate press statement ZIMCHE, the high-profile body that regulates standards of teaching, examinations, academic qualifications and research in higher education, said it had wielded the axe on a number of local and foreign universities for failing to guarantee quality.
The huge distance University of South Africa (UNISA) is among the affected institutions.
The regulator said that since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980, the number of universities had risen from one to 14, polytechnics from just two to the current nine, and teacher colleges from eight to 15.
It said unprecedented demand for university education had prompted universities to increase enrolments without corresponding increases in appropriate facilities, infrastructure and adequate numbers of competent staff, leading to quality being compromised.
Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown between 2000 and 2010, which saw inflation reaching 2.3 million percent, made matters worse, resulting in the current crackdown to guard against falling standards.
“Positive public perceptions of our institutions must continue to be fostered through the observance of high quality standards in all educational operations. It becomes clear that any institution offering programmes that do not meet the standards set must be stopped from offering them,” said a ZIMCHE statement.
In its statement announcing the measures it had taken to guarantee quality in higher education, ZIMCHE provided details of the institutions and programmes affected.
It suspended some Zimbabwe Open University programmes in counselling and in primary education for failing to meet standards.
The National University of Science and Technology medical degree programme, which was deemed to have failed to meet the requirements of the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe, was terminated. A PhD in African leadership development and the PhD in business administration offered by NUST were also suspended.
Ten foreign universities were also affected by the new quality control measures. All face-to-face teaching of UNISA degrees in Zimbabwe was stopped as well as an MBA offered through lectures by South’s Africa’s Regent College.
Finally, all degree programmes taught in Zimbabwe through the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute were also stopped.
Tertiary lecturers strike, uncertainty over student grants
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