HEA Lauds Private HEIs’ Contribution to Higher Education
The Higher Education Authority (HEA) has commended the contributions that private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have made in ensuring increased diversity of Learning Programmes (LP) available in Zambia.
Speaking when he featured on Life TV’s News Report Current Affairs Talk Show yesterday, HEA’s Manager – Standards, Research and Institutional Audits, Dr. Orleans Mfune, stated that the increase in the number of HEIs has resulted into there being an increase in the number of places available for students to enrol into and in the varied LPs from which to choose.
“Private universities should not be seen as a negative element, they provide an important service to fill a very important gap,” Dr. Mfune said, adding, “Government alone cannot actually manage (to provide higher education to everyone) and the private universities are providing a service to meet the demand that is there.”
Dr. Mfune noted that statistics have shown that only 20% of high school graduates in Zambia manage to enter university, elucidating the sobering fact that the majority of people that pass Grade 12 do not make it to university, mainly due to limited space. Thus, private universities provide an avenue to increase access to university education.
The Manager – Standards, Research and Institutional Audits was featured on the show to discuss the alleged mushrooming of universities purporting to be credible and legitimate.
“When people talk about mushrooming, I know they are talking about private universities (but) this is a phenomenon that will be with us,” he said, adding, “but I have to assure the viewers because sometimes we take this as a negative.”
In drawing the parallel with the alarming number of Grade 12s who fail to enter higher education even with full certificates due to limited places, Dr. Mfune elaborated that the main concern should not necessarily be the perceived number of HEIs but how to safeguard the quality provision of higher education by these HEIs.
“The main concern that our stakeholders should have is how we safeguard the quality of education in these universities,” Dr. Mfune said, stating that that it was through the processes that HEA had put in place that safeguard against a decline in quality and ensure that quality is maintained.
Dr. Mfune added that these quality assurance processes include accreditation of Learning Programmes (LPs), auditing of HEIs, and classification of HEIs, a process which the Authority has recently began to place HEIs in categories defined by the Zambia Qualifications Framework (ZQF) depending on their capacity to offer higher education.