At least 1,000 private students in higher institutions of learning could be thrown out of school over irregularities in their admission.
The development comes after the Ministry of Education evoked a 2007 policy governing higher education to stem fraudulent admission of students in private institutions of higher learning.
The policy requires that universities do not admit students who passed with either Grade S or F, according to a November 1 circular signed by the Minister for Education, Dr Vincent Biruta.
The circular was directed to all heads of private institutions of higher learning.
The policy, which seeks to ensure quality in higher institutions of learning, affects more than 1030 students from Rwanda Association of Private Institutions of Higher Learning (ARPES), whose admission has been terminated.
And the number is expected to be higher as there are other private universities which do not subscribe to the association.
The most affected are those who study technical and vocational education in Senior Six.
The new directive also says the affected students should claim any fees they have paid to the institutions.
This paper understands the decision follows an investigation into the management of admissions into private institutions of higher learning.
The decision to evoke this admission guideline was communicated at an October 20 meeting between Education Ministry officials and representatives of private higher learning institutions that discussed admission criteria effective this academic year.
The circular, a copy of which The New Times has obtained, gives reference to this meeting.
It is understood most of the students affected by the policy had already reported for this academic year, which started in September.
The ministry blamed institutions for violating the admission policy governing higher education by admitting students with poor grades.
“A candidate to be admitted to an undergraduate programme should have an Advanced General Certificate of Secondary Education, with at least two principal passes,” reads part of the circular.
Passes are counted using alphabetical letters which are A, B, C, D, E, S and F. Principal passes are graded A, B, C, D and E.
A, the best grade, represents six points, with S representing a point from subsidiary paper like General Paper, while F is failure.
The policy says that a candidate should have at least two of the mentioned grades to be admitted in any tertiary institution.
Despite this, some students who have been affected are still hanging around the universities visited by this paper, with hope that the decision may be reversed.
Although the affected students are not attending lectures, they argue that the policy was communicated late because they are two months into the semester.
The students urged university administrators to engage the Ministry of Education to stay the policy until the next academic year.
“I think this policy is new or it was not communicated in time, now we have registered as new students, paid our tuition fees and spent money buying other academic materials, we wonder why we should be dismissed as if we were not duly admitted by university,” said Denise Uwamahoro, a first year student of Bachelors in Biotechnology at Institute of Higher Education (INES Ruhengeri).
Another student, who only identified herself as Ishema, said it was not fair to send students home in complete disregard of having obtained the National Advanced Level Examination certificate.
“It is like the certificates they gave us are void, how can they base on two principal passes. This is unfair and it is a surprise that we are sent home after two months of studying,” she said.
One can qualify to get a certificate without necessarily having two principal passes from their subject combination.
INES Ruhengeri guild president Richard Nteziryayo also said the decision was not favouring students because it was communicated late.
“This was due to disagreement between the ministry and various institutions. There are hundreds of students that are supported by FARG and are stranded, they are forced to go back home, yet those are admitted after consulting government institutions,” Ruhengeri said.
“I wonder why they admitted that huge number while they knew they had not raised two principal passes. Our prayer is that the policy is deferred and implemented next academic year.”
Rectors of private higher learning institutions, however, acknowledge that it was their mistake as the policy is not new because it started in 2007.
This is the first time the policy is being implemented since it came into force.
Fr Dr Deogratias Niyibizi, the INES rector, who also doubles as the head of Rectors’ Council of Private Institutions of High Learning said the only problem is that the communication was made late.
“We would wish the policy to be delayed until next year because many students are affected but we have no right to ignore the law. We don’t blame the Ministry because they informed us but we delayed implementing the policy,” said Niyibizi.
Richard Niyonkuru, vice rector in charge of finance at the Institute of Lay Adventists of Kigali, said more than 250 students have been affected there.
He said the change will affect both the university as a whole and not just the students alone.
“It is disturbing to admit students and later tell them they are not qualified to study in university, we shall have to adjust our budget accordingly and refund them,” Niyonkuru said.
Dr Gustave Tombora, the academic vice rector of Rwanda Tourism University College, said the decision should be enforced next academic year.
However, Minister Biruta insisted there is no looking back.
“There shouldn’t be any worries, as ministry we have spelt out that students to be admitted to higher learning institutions should have met certain requirements in accordance with a policy governing higher learning institutions that should be respected. The mistake was made by higher learning institution officials who admitted ineligible students,” said Dr Biruta.
The policy apparently does not affect students who had been admitted earlier, or those who have already graduated.
Universities quality control rule leaves 1,000 students dismissed