9 August 2017

Malawi: Education Experts Hail Mutharika for Endorsing University of Malawi Delinking

Education experts have hailed President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika for approving the de-linking of the constituent colleges from the University of Malawi (UNIMA), sayung that would resolve long-standing governance and bureaucratic challenges.

The development means the four constituent colleges of Unima will sonnet or later become standalone universities.

Polytechnic will now merge with College of Accountancy to form a separate university.

Chancellor College will combine with Domasi College of Education, Bunda College will merge with Natural Resources, [it has already merged as Lilongwe University of Natural Resources-Luanar] and the nursing courses of College of Health Sciences will go to Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) while remaining courses would go to College of Medicine to form a university.

Benedicto Kondowe said unbundling of Unima would help to bring sanity and enhance competition in higher education and growth of the institutions.

Kondowe, who is director of Civil Society Education Coalition, said structures that are at the University Office are the same as those found in colleges and it is in a way duplication of roles.

He said the presidential nod is a "progressive development" and ask all parties to be "sober' and "more constructive" in detaining how the exercise will be done.

Limbani Eliya Nsapato said unbundling of Unima would encourage innovation in addressing current issues of financing and sustainability.

"The delinking will also minimise inefficiencies in tackling perennial problems of lack of harmonisation of university calendars, frequent closures of universities due to student riots and staff strikes.

" Furthermore , t h e unbundling will help colleges to be autonomous and creative in addressing prior mandates in research, quality and equitable access," Nsapato said.

The education expert said the unbundling would also help address differences in staff remuneration and boost career progression among academic and nonacademic staff in a less bureaucratic manner.

He, however, warned the unbundling may come with its own teething problems such as need for enterprising and forthright leadership; need for enhancing capacity (technical and financial) to ensure sustainability of the programmes; and transparency and accountability in public financial management.

Nsapato said there may also be the need for policy oversight so that the colleges do not turn a blind eye on their prior mandate.

Bunda College which delinked from Unima to turn into Luanar (Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources) is becoming more selfsustained in terms of funding, research and programming.

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