Students share their experiences on three-year degree policy

Since the 2017 academic year, the University of Rwanda started offering bachelor’s degrees in three years, down from four years for many of the courses.

The move was designed to reduce the cost of education and embark on a more practical learning process, according to Prof Nelson Ijumba, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Rwanda.

Under the new policy only architecture, engineering and medicine would go beyond four years.

Despite its implementation, criticism about the quality of education, the high cost of running the university and the bureaucracy has persisted.

As the first cohort of students under this arrangement prepare to graduate on Friday 8th November, some students and lecturers shared their experiences.

Reduced cost

During the previous policy, the government used to pay tuition fees for students on bursary for 10 months, making it an overall 40 months of public spending during the four-year duration.

Under the current curriculum, the tuition period was downsized to 33 months, reducing public spending on scholarships by 25 per cent.

Brendah Barungi, who is set to graduate in on Friday with a Bachelor degree in Journalism, says that instead of paying Rwf2.6 million, she paid Rwf2 million.

For Patrick Mukunzi, who paid Rwf2.8 million said; “It is a bit unfortunate that the change came too late. We should have covered our learning activities in only three years. It is only a waste of time,” Mukunzi said

Quality of education

With criticisms that Rwandan university education system poorly prepares students for the job market, the university claim to have compressed the content to make it more effective

Nevertheless, Mukunzi who is also a graduand in November with a 4-year Bachelor degree in Journalism, said that the content was compressed to become too short for students to get time for practical skills that are equally important.

“Shortening the duration led to the removal of some practical works from the schedule. It was hard for a student to find time for compressed courses and practices,” he noted.

Dr Charles Murigande, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Institutional Advancement of the University of Rwanda, despite the change in the duration of the academic programme, the content remained intact.

He disclosed that the trend in students’ performance did not change.

The University of Rwanda is ranked 3220th globally, and 52nd in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to Webometrics Ranking of World Universities report in 2017.

Since 2013, the university has been undergoing reforms, including rebranding and merging it with various public higher institutions of learning.

This article was first publishes on The New Times