Agency Frames Regulatory Stick on Private Higher Education Institutions at Fault


The lack of implementable penalty clauses were highlighted as major bottlenecks for regulating quality and redress students damage.




The Higher Education Relevance & Quality Agency (HERQA) is about to introduce penalties on higher education institutions that engage in activities that do not adhere to the principles stipulated in the country’s higher education proclamation.

The Agency has taken more than a year since it came up with its zero draft of the directive, which categorises illegal conducts by colleges and universities. In line with this, the directive also clearly states the consequences when it comes to making offenders accountable to their actions. The initial document has indicated a few misconducts and their penalties, while the latest draft has introduced 15 misconducts and irregularities and their corresponding penalties.

“The directive has come very late,” a source told Fortune on the condition of anonymity.

The latest draft has been circulated to stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Education, private higher education associations.

The directive listed irregularities, such as operating without license; opening branches without a green light from the Agency; offering students programmes without permission; receiving students who do not pass the minimum entry requirements and registering students beyond the permitted enrolment scale.

The Agency, which is mandated by law to ensure the quality of higher education institutions, has been struggling due to the lack of a wider reach across the country to control the institutions and take necessary measures in case of any misconduct.

In the recently concluded budget year, the Agency planned to monitor 30 institutions, but was able to do so with only 17 institutions.

Institutions, such as Rift Valley University, Lucy College and Bio-Medical College (Medco) were listed as having breached standards and will thus face consequences. The breaches included colleges delivering programmes to students without accreditation from the Agency.

Back then, the least measure taken was that the Agency ordered those that failed to follow the proclamation to transfer students to a similar institution with accreditation.

The aforementioned breach brought penalties that extend to five-year ban from delivering an education programme that the institution was caught delivering without accreditation. In addition, it will be imposed that the colleges or universities have to transfer the students to a similar institution that has the license, prescribes the new directive.

If an institution receives students more than the permitted number in each respective programme, it will face a four to five-year ban from receiving students on the same programme across all its branches and campuses.

The new directive is expected to be endorsed by the next academic year.

Established in 2003 as a regulatory body responsible for overseeing the education sector, the Agency will use this directive specifically to effectively execute its higher education proclamation and regulation, which were introduced seven years ago.

In the preamble of this new directive, it is stated that the fact that there were no such elaborated lists of penalties that were supposed to be implemented gives leeway to those colleges and universities to operate irresponsibly.

This has in fact created a problem in the quality of education and also sent a negative connotation to those institutions that abide by the law.



By DAWIT ENDESHAW
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Aug 16,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 850]


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