Editorial

WELL DONE UNZA

THE Higher Education Authority (HEA) must be commended for having classified the country’s universities for this will help maintain standards.

It will also help the public think twice before enrolling for any degree programme at any of the many universities that have sprung up in recent years.

It is important that the country’s educational system is able to compete on the global stage and this can only be achieved if institutions of higher learning, especially universities, are graded to ensure that minimum standards are maintained.

It is in this vein that we commend the HEA for releasing its rankings with the University of Zambia (UNZA) being classified in the highest tier of the Zambia Qualifications Framework (ZQF) 10 following findings of the audit of each higher education institution in the country. 

The HEA has classified universities in the country into four tiers according to the Zambia Qualifications Framework, namely, from the lowest to the highest: ZQF 7, ZQF 8, ZQF 9 and ZQF. 

The classification is intended to align higher education institutions (universities) to their capacities to offer learning programmes, for instance, ZQF 10 where UNZA falls, allows universities in that category to offer programmes from diploma to Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), while those in ZQF7 can only offer bachelor’s degree programmes.

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With this classification, we are sure Zambians who quest for university education will have a guideline on which institution to join.

As UNZA Vice-Chancellor, Professor Luke Mumba, said, the classification of higher education institutions into four tiers would assist the public to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing a university to study from.

“As a university, we are delighted to be classified in the highest tier of ZQF 10 because this helps to build public confidence in the University of Zambia’s capacity and ability to provide quality programmes from diploma to PhD programmes to support the national development agenda.”

It is an open secret that the liberalisation of the country’s economy has seen a huge investment in the educational sector with private schools being opened offering primary and secondary education.

There has also been a proliferation of higher institutions of learning, from colleges to universities.

There have even been instances where an educational investor opens a technical college that does not have any workshops but operates from a room in a highrise building.

This is the more reason why the HEA must be given all the support so that those who open universities and colleges are held accountable.

HEA Director General, Prof Stephen Simukanga, said the classification of higher education institutions into four classes based on their capabilities in research and innovation, teaching and learning is provided for in Statutory Instrument No. 25 of 2016.

“The goal of the classification system is to provide a basis for guiding learners and the public on the level of education that can be offered by a higher education institution based on its human resources, physical resources and research capacity,” states Prof Simukanga.

Even in developed countries, universities are classified and this should explain why qualifications from some universities are held in high esteem.

At global level, the high ranked universities include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard, Stanford and Cornel in the United States.

In Africa, the pecking order runs University of Cape Town, Pretoria, Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch in South Africa.  Seventh in Africa is the American University of Cairo.

The University of Zambia is ranked 28th.

Our hope is that all local universities should strive for the highest ranking and ensure that their graduates can compete anywhere in the world.

Well done UNZA.

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