University gates are open. A scramble for university admission is under way with up to 65,417 students chasing a dwindling number of vacancies in universities in the country.
With a record A’ level pass rate of close to 70% — meaning all these students had the required two principal passes for university admission — the competition will be more intense than ever before.
Much as public universities like Kyambogo, Mbarara, Gulu and Busitema may have to wait for the release of Government admissions’ list before they can call for admissions under private sponsorship; all other private universities and Makerere University (which is a public) have started admitting students for the next academic year that starts in August.
Makerere alone expects to admit about 20,000 at its main and up-country campuses. Other private universities are expected to admit about 15,000 students.
Unlike in the past, Makerere has, this time, opened private admissions before the release of the Government list.
The higher education admissions process takes place in two stages.
First, all students who wish to be considered for admission under the government sponsorship scheme to public universities fill out the Public Universities Joint Admissions Board (PUJAB) application forms and rank their top six choices of degree programmes at public universities and four choices of diploma programmes at other public tertiary institutions.
This process is completed before students sit for their final national examinations; meaning that, whoever missed, is too late to do so.
The minimum qualification for entry into public universities is two principal passes obtained at the same UACE sitting. However, to earn a Government scholarship, students need to be outstanding.
Most students sit for either three or four subjects in their area of study (arts or sciences). Their scores on the various subjects are then weighted based on the requirement of individual programmes within faculties, and the top-scoring students are admitted.
The list of students to be admitted on Government sponsorship will be released this month. Those who will not have been admitted at this stage can get to the second stage of admissions which is for self-sponsorship.
Whereas the Private Entry Scheme (PES) was started at Makerere, all the public universities now have similar programmes. The programmes are usually advertised and students apply. About 90% of the student population in public universities is privately sponsored.
Due to the limited places, the private admission in public universities is also merit-based — only the best performing students are admitted. It is, therefore, not automatic that when one obtains two principal passes, he/she will be admitted. However, this may not be the case in most private universities in the country.
If one cannot make it to any of the six public universities, there are several options. One can join any of the 28 private universities or the other 50 recognised tertiary institutions for diploma and certificate courses.
Students may not necessarily wait for the Government and private admissions in public universities.
A survey done by Mwalimu shows that almost all privately-owned universities started receiving applications from students this month and are about to start scrutinising their academic papers for admission.
Makerere university will, on June 21, close applications for private students.
At Bugema University, the public relations officer Alice Nakalembe, says they started receiving applications from interested students this month and closes in the first week of July. The university senate will then sit and select the students who will have met the minimum admission standards as provided by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE).
Nakalembe explains that admission of students will be completed late in July before the university opens for the August-intake. She says the university plans to admit 3,000 students.
Uganda Christian University
Uganda Christian University (UCU) has set May 31, as the deadline to receive applications at the main campus in Mukono to give the administration enough time to screen the applicants for admissions. The university’s regional campuses are expected to close admissions on August 16.
The university’s publicist, Prim Tumuramye, says they started receiving applications from students in March for the September intake. The university has two intakes in a year, with the first one beginning in May while another starts in September.
“We have closed the May intake but we are still getting applications for the September intake,” Tumuramye adds.
She explains that the University admissions board has not yet decided on the number of students to be admitted in the next intake. The university admitted 1,500 last year.
According to Tumuramye, the number is likely to go up than last year’s. “Some schools have stopped receiving applications and admitting students because they already have the numbers they need,” she adds.
The Vice Chancellor of Uganda Technology and Management University, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba also confirmed that the admissions process is ongoing. He says the university has already started the admission process for the September intake and plans to admit about 500 students.
At Nkumba University, between 3,000 to 4,000 students will be admitted in the August intake.
Nkumba has two intakes in a year, with the first one starting in February while the second commences in August.
The university’s public relations officer, Bernard Ecweru, says they are still receiving applications from students up to July, when senate is expected to produce a list of admitted students.
Ecweru says the University follows the minimum admission guidelines set by NCHE in admitting students.
Mountains of the Moon University in Fort Portal began receiving applications in April for the August intake. Grace Mugasa, the university’s communications officer, says they will stop receiving applications in July.
Undergraduate applicants at Mountains of the Moon University, according to Mugasa, should have at least two principal passes while those applying for diploma programmes are expected to have one principal pass. The university plans to admit between 500 to 600 students.
Meanwhile, at Uganda Pentecostal University in Fort Portal has set July 4 as the deadline for receiving applications for the October intake. The university also runs two intakes in a year, with the first commencing in March while the second kicks off in October.
The university’s public relations officer, Sam Orakire, says receiving applications and admissions for the October intake began as soon as the March intake started.
“Many students have been recommended for admission for the next intake,” he adds.
Orakire explains that they plan to admit between 800 and 1,200 students for the next intake, excluding the less privileged ones who are given half-bursaries.
Mwalimu could hardly obtain information from Nkozi University, since the public relations officer, said she was not prepared to avail the information.
At Ndejje University, the public relations officer, Nathan Kasozi, says the process of receiving applications for admissions for the next intake started last month and will close as soon as target number has been achieved. He could not, however, provide details on the number of students they intend to admit.
The academic registrar of St Lawrence University, Anthony Alinaitwe says admissions started on May 1 and will close on September 10, in preparation for the August intake.
Alinaitwe says the university expects to admit 2,000 students using two principal passes as the minimum requirement for undergraduate students.
“We usually use two principal passes as our minimum requirement except for other courses that require a student to have passed specific subjects with certain points.”
The academic registrar of Cavendish University in Uganda, Sayid Ssemakula, explains that receiving applications for the next intake started early May and is expect to end on May 19 before students can begin attending classes.
However, he could not readily give the number of students to be admitted since he was not in office to access the records when Mwalimu contacted him.
Unlike other institutions, Uganda Management Institute (UMI) is run on a module system instead of a semester basis.
According to the public relations officer, Harriet Adakun, the module system allows them to admit students throughout the year. She says the institution continues to admit students under various programmes after the closure of the general admissions.
Adakun says that the students who have been admitted under ordinary diplomas as advertised in April are expected to begin attending classes in the second week of July. She could not provide the number of students admitted.
“We can admit at any time. For example PhD students have just completed their courses and we are now shortlisting those that applied for the master’s degrees,” she adds.
Competition to tighten
Competition for places at university is likely to stiffen due to an increased number of A’ level candidates and improved performance in last year’s Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education Examinations.
More so, the number of candidates who are eligible for admission in the university went up. The overall performance of candidates in last year’s national examinations show that a very high percentage of candidates (99.3%), qualified for the award of UACE. In 2011, this was at 99.2%.
Last year, 65,417 (64%) candidates passed between four principal passes and two principal passes. But, with the newly released results, the number shot up to 76,151 (69.4%).