3 February 2013

Ethiopia: Agency Orders Zemen Institute to Transfer Students

Zemen Development & Management Institute (ZDMI) has been instructed to transfer over 400 of its students to an authorised institution to complete their studies, by the Higher Education Relevance & Quality Agency (HERQA).

The Institute was shutdown on December 10, 2012, after accreditation concerns arose with the curriculum offered. HERQA maintains, however, that those that have already graduated will be recognised as having a valid diploma.

Established in June 2008, as a sole proprietor business, owned by Solomon Sileshi, ZDMI began offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses, mainly in the area of project management and business administration. These courses were offered in partnership with the UK based, Cambridge International College (CIC).

It received accreditation for the Masters in Business Administration for the 2009/10 to 2012/13 school years, whilst the Project Management program was accredited for the period between 2011/12 and 2014/15. Accreditation was provided by the HERQA, based on a letter from the British Council in Ethiopia, confirming that CIC was an accredited institution of the Open & Distance Learning Quality Council of the UK for certificate, diploma and masters level courses.

A British Council letter, addressed to "whom it may concern" and signed by the then director, Barbara Wickham, on December 8, 2009, confirmed that CIC had been recognised by the Council since 2003. British Council officials were not available to respond to this issue.

After further consideration, the British Council retracted its acknowledgment of CIC, as an accredited College, and wrote a letter to the HERQA saying that CIC was not in a position to offer distance education courses, according to the HERQA.

ZDMI was unable to provide the accreditation documents for CIC, when asked by the HERQA. This led to the closing down of the Institution, as of December 10, 2013, according to Tarekegn Geresu, public relations officer at the HERQA.

The decission of the Authority has not been comforting to current and past students of ZDMI.

"There is no equivalent education institute, both in its quality and the price here in Ethiopia," said a student who was in his second year at the Institution.

He complains that the HERQA did not do its job properly during the licencing period.

"We saw the accreditation given by the authority and we registered and paid school fess of up to 70,000 Br," he added.

A graduate of the MBA program, who received her diploma three days before the HERQA's announcment on state television about the closing of the school, lamented that recognistion of her degree by the HERQA will not help her, as potential employers have already heard about the school's problems.

One potential employer told her that he would not recognise the validity of her diploma, during a job interview two weeks go.

"I am hopeless," she cried out.

ZDMI, which commenced operations with a 50,000 Br capital and 46 students, graduated 125 students from the MBA program and International Diploma in Project Management (IDPM), on November 24, 2012.

Current and former students have signed a pettition and an appeal to the HERQA requesting a timely and reasonable solution to the problem.

"The school has to prepare the students documents and transfer them to a qualified school as soon as possible," says Tarekegn. "If not, the Agency will take the necessary action."

ZDMI has so far submitted three alternative proposals to the HERQA, as of January 31, 2013, according to Solomon, One of the proposals is to reopen the Institution and partner it with the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), which it has already requested the HERQA to accredit, back in June 2010.

The British Council has also written a letter confirming the accreditation of the LSBF for the MBA program, certificate and diploma programmes, in the areas of Business, Finance, Accountancy, Marketing and English, in a letter written on May 24, 2010.

However, HERQA denies having received such a proposal from ZDMI, to date.

Zemen Development & Management Institute (ZDMI) is a higher education institute established in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia in June 2008 to provide diploma and Master's programmers under Cambridge International College.

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