7 February 2018

Malawi: Ex-Student Sues Shareworld Open University Over Degree

Barely two weeks after the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) released names of unaccredited learning institutions in Malawi, an ex-student has sued Shareworld Open University for allegedly failing to award him a degree eight years after graduation.

Enock Mainje has dragged the institution, which is one of the unaccredited private universities in the country, to court through lawyer Kuleza Phokoso.

He is demanding that the university either gives him a bachelors degree in HIV and Aids management or pay compensation worth K45 million.

"We ask the institution to specifically perform the contract between itself and our client by giving him his degree and should the contract be found void on grounds of public policy or statute namely the lack of accreditation of the university, compensation of up to K45 million," said Phokoso.

The student is also claiming exemplary damages and ordinary damages for loss of use of his degree, loss of opportunities for further studies and loss of international and local job opportunities.

According to court documents of Civil Cause Number 354 of 2017, Mainje enrolled at the university as a Mature Entry student between 2008 and 2010.

He executed a contract with the university to train him in the said degree and paid US$7,000 (K7 million) as consideration.

Mainje was graduated in 2010 at a ceremony organized by the university at Bingu International Convention Center in Lilongwe.

Phokoso argues that in breach of the contract, the university did not give Mainje his degree and has not done so to date.

"The defendants only discharged part of the contract by teaching and graduating the claimant but have not given him his degree," he said.

The documents further show that Mainje's repeated reminders to the university to give him his degree have borne no fruit.

Mainje is seeking specific performance and wants the court to compel the university to give him his degree, damages for the losses he has suffered or alliteratively damages only, if it is found that the contract was void because the university was not accredited and the so called degree is worthless.

Shareworld Open University vice chancellor, Theodora Mapemba, said she was not aware of the issue.

This is not the first time students from a private university have dragged an institution to court over degrees and accreditation.

Earlier last year, there was a standoff between Blantyre International University (BIU) and its students who refused to attend classes until the university was accredited.

BIU is still on the list of unaccredited universities told to shut down, released on 27 January by NCHE.

In 2017, Malawi College of Accountancy students also took the institution to court to force it to get its degree programmess accredited. The college has since been accredited.

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