As Parliament considers the Budget Framework Paper for the financial year 2018/2019, public universities have expressed urgent need for increase in their budget allocation if they are to cope up with expectations of running a university.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Sports, the leadership of Lira, Muni and Soroti Universities informed Members of Parliament that both underfunding and late release of funds have stalled most of the University projects.
According to Prof. Jasper Ogwal Okeng, the Vice Chancellor Lira University, in the current financial year, the University requested for Ushs10 billion but was given Ushs8 billion. He said they are still grappling with low staffing levels of 25%, limited infrastructure and late tuition payments by students.
“In this financial year, we need about Ushs15 billion to address key priority issues.”
The Muni University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Christine Dranzoa, said that the university requested for Ushs 17 billion but received Ushs 13 billion.
Additionally, Dranzoa said there were budget cuts of 44.3% in the development budget which grossly affected development plans such as retooling of the lecture block and completion of payments for projects.
Members of Parliament questioned the universities’ leadership as to why they had not brought to the attention of Parliament the budget cuts much earlier.
Hon. Joseph Ssewungu (Kalungu County West) urged the Ministry of Education and Sports to guard against what he termed as ‘unfair budget cuts” and challenged them to ensure that Universities receive approved funds in time.
Hon. Kasibante Moses (Rubaga Division North) wondered why the Ministry would release inadequate funds even when they have been approved.
Jolly Uzamukunda, the Commissioner for Higher Education and Training at Ministry of Education and sports said, “the one who cuts budgets is not the Ministry of Education and Sports but the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.”
Members of Parliament also asked Universities to address the inconsistences in living out allowances and duplication of programmes.
The Committee Vice Chairperson, Hon. Jacob Opolot said that the Ministry of Education and Sports should put in place a policy for standardizing university living out allowances.