18 June 2019

Uganda: Makerere Freezes Pay for Interns

Makerere University has failed to provide allowances for government-sponsored students to do internship and facilitate staff to supervise the placements.

Internships are crucial components of certain programmes for hands-on experience and pre-condition for graduation.

Hundreds of the 6,000 government-sponsored students, mainly those pursuing science programmes such as medicine, surveying, engineering and urban planning, should have started internship on May 17. Each student was supposed to receive Shs350,000 but none has been paid.

Private students with money to finance their work placements and many of whom were already in the field, are also stuck because academic staff to supervise them are yet to receive facilitation from the university.

"I admit the university has been facing some financial challenge, but we are handling. The students should be able to receive their money by close of business [yesterday] since the Finance ministry has already released this money," said Dr Muhammad Kiguddu, the university communication manager.

News of unfunded internship came days after the university management suspended external examiners, saying the institution has resources to meet their bills.

External examiners provide a second eye on results of mainly graduate students and assess their viva (oral examination), which lends credibility to an institution's academic grades.

Makerere University guild president Julius Kateregga yesterday told journalists during a media briefing that the management's "failure to release allowances and facilitation [cash] on time had hindered students' academic progress".

He issued the university with a one-week ultimatum to find the money or brace for students' protest.

Mr Edward Mwavu, the deputy chairperson of Makerere University Academic Staff Association (Muasa), said they cannot go to the field to supervise students, some of whom have work placements upcountry, without cash in their pockets.

"If the money is remitted to our accounts, we shall start supervising students because we are ready to work," he said.

He claimed, without offering specifics, that Makerere University management was spending substantial resources on "useless items".


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