HEA’s End of 2023 Virtual Symposium with the HEIs: HEA Suspends Accreditation of Learning Programmes for Colleges

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) held its End of 2023 Symposium with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on Friday, 22nd December, 2023. The Symposium was held virtually and had participation from 42 HEIs, ranging from health, teaching and nursing and midwifery colleges, to university colleges and universities.

The messages that were communicated to the HEIs at the Symposium included the following:

  1. Accreditation of learning programmes for colleges has been suspended until the end of the of the 1st Quarter of 2024. The suspension of this accreditation process is to ensure that all colleges are trained in how to submit accredited learning programmes. The suspension of the submission of learning programmes for accreditation until the colleges are trained will ensure that the learning programmes submitted by the colleges are submitted in the prescribed standard and are not rejected due to failing to meet the standards for submission.The training for all colleges on the accreditation process has been scheduled for the 1st Quarter of 2024.
  2. All colleges have been directed to register with or get adopted by HEA before 31st March, 2024. Therefore, the grace period that has been accorded to colleges that were previously under other regulatory bodies before the assenting of the Higher Education (Amendment) Act, 2021, which brought all HEIs under the purview of HEA, with the exception of TEVET institutions, will end on 31st March, 2023. This means that all non-adopted and nonregistered colleges will be declared illegal institutions.
  3. Compliance levels of HEIs on major aspects of quality assurance has been worrying the Authority. The aspects include the following:
    • Some HEIs have continued to offer learning programmes that have not been accredited. It is a matter of law that no HEI is supposed to offer any unaccredited learning programme.
    • Some HEIs have continued providing higher education without the necessary facilities that support teaching and learning. These include libraries, equipped laboratories, computer labs, subscription to e-databases.
    • Some HEIs have continued to open up unregistered campuses. Illegal campuses of registered HEIs have mushroomed around the country.
    • Running unregistered HEIs, specifically colleges and university colleges. All private HEIs must be registered by HEA. Similarly, all public HEIs must be recognised as such through adoption.
    • Illegal affiliations among HEIs are compromising training and has continued to be a source of questionable qualifications. Affiliations must be approved by HEA.
    • Admission of unqualified learners into colleges and universities. All learners must be admitted within the prescription of the Law.

In order to ensure that there is a rise in compliance levels of HEIs on the aforementioned major aspects of quality assurance, in 2024, HEA will increase its enforcement of quality assurance standards. This will be done through an increase in vigilance against unwanted traits in the higher education subsector.

  1. HEIs urged to be creative and outward looking in order to attract investments for their growth. Look for investments and possible partners within and outside the country.
  2. The call for the Government of the Republic of Zambia to extend grants to private HEIs is premature and misinformed considering the uninspiring performance of our private HEIs. It should be noted that the idea of liberalising the education sector is to bring the private sector to support the Government and not the other way.
  3. The call for Government of the Republic of Zambia to extend student loans to private HEIs is equally immature. HEIs must earn this trust and confidence from the Government. HEA finds it hard to take this message to the Government with the questionable performance of the HEIs.
  4. Faith-based HEls are urged to do better to compliment the Government of the Republic of Zambia in the higher education subsector. The performance of faith-based HEIs has been below expectation considering the standards set at primary and secondary school levels and in the health sector.
  5. There is no preferential treatment of HEIs. All HEIs are subject to the same standards and penalties. Both private and public HEIs will continue to be treated equally before the law in order to create a balanced improvement in the quality standards across all HEIs.

The HEIs that attended the virtual symposium were African Christian University, Ambassador International University, Berea Theological University College, Chengelo Nursing College, Chreso University, DAPP Mkushi College of Education, Eden University, George Benson Christian University College, Gideon Robert University, Glory Academy College, Harvest University, Hope College of Education, Information and Communications University, Kwame Nkrumah University, Levy Mwanawasa Medical University, Livingstone International University of Tourism Excellence and Business Management (LIUTEBM), Lusaka Apex Medical University, Lusaka Goldsmiths University College, Mukuba University, Mulungushi University, Northrise University, Plains of Mamre International College, Rusangu University, South Valley University, St. Luke’s College of Nursing, St. Bonaventure University, St. Dominic’s Major Seminary, Sunningdale University, Supershine University, UNICOHS University College, University of Barotseland, University of Kabwe, University of Lusaka, University of Zambia (UNZA), Victoria Falls University of Technology, Woodlands University College, Zambia Catholic University, Zambian College of Open Learning, and Zera International College of Health Sciences.