New Vision (Kampala)

21 February 2013

Uganda: NCHE Maintains Fairland University Blacklisting

The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) has maintained its decision to blacklist Fairland University, saying it lacks the requisite components to be categorized as a fully-fledged university.

The council's stance is contained in its written statement of defence, dated February 7, filed at the High Court in Kampala.

This is in response to a suit filed by the Jinja based university on January 28, protesting notices issued by the council. Fairland is demanding sh2.5b as compensation.

The council run contentious notices this year in the media on January 14, stating that the university was operating illegally and offered unaccredited courses.

Through Lex Uganda Advocates and Solicitors, NCHE asserts it is protecting the unsuspecting public, since Fairland had been adamant to constitute the requisite university components despite earlier cautions to heed.

"The defendant shall aver that it is in the interest of justice that the public be protected from institutions such as that of the plaintiff until such time as they satisfy the stringent requirement of operating a university in Uganda set out by the law," NCHE defence states.

Additionally, the council notes that Fairland has continued to operate unlicensed study centres and run long distance courses.

The council says despite knowledge that institutions with provisional licences are not mandated to award Masters and doctorate degrees, it has adamantly continued to do so. NCHE also brands Fairland dishonest, saying it had denied the council access to the university premises.

Court documents state that on November 10, 2005, the council issued the university a provisional license. Subsequently, the university was published in the Uganda Gazette of December 2, 2005, notifying the general public that it was a licensed institution.

The plaint states that thereafter, Fairland started operations and secured funding from financial institutions to set up both physical and technical infrastructure. Fairland accuses the council of practicing double standards. The plaint states that 14 months from the time of issue of the license, the council published a notice dated February 26,2007, published in the Uganda Gazette of March 9, 2007, and New Vision of April 3, 2007.

Fairland says its license was revoked within six months, contrary to the Universities and Other Tertiary Institutions Act 2001. It accuses the council of witch-hunt, saying this has curtailed efforts to establish itself as a fully-fledged university. It cites an incident when the Kenya Commission for Higher Education issued a notice in the New Vision of August 5, 2009, distancing itself from the institution.

But NCHE says the statutory two-year period a university enjoys following receipt of a provisional licence, expired in July 2011.

The case file previously allocated to Justice Elizabeth Musoke, has been allocated to Justice Benjamin Kabiito. However, a hearing date is yet to be set.

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