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The Vice Chancellor and Top University Management Visit to the school of Law

Academic staff at the School of Law can now get their Practicing Certificates through the Directorate of Legal Services Makerere University that has been accredited bythe Law Council to offer legal services. Prior to this the staff were applying for the Practicing certificates under Law firms.

This was revealed during a consultative meeting between the University topManagement led by the Vice Chancellor and the staff of the School of Law held at the Lower lecture theatre, Wednesday 14th February 2018.

Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe led a delegation of members of Management that included the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. MukadasiBuyinza, the University Librarian, Dr. Helen Byamugisha, the Director DICTS, Mr Frank Kitumba, The University Bursar Mr. Augustine Tamale, The Director Internal Audit Mr. Walter BrunoYoracNono, the Director Legal Services, Mr. GoddyMuhumuza and The Director Quality Assurance Dr. Vincent Sembatya.

The Vice Chancellor while addressing School of Law staff said management had taken a decision to include more people in the running of the University affairs in an effort to reduce tension among staff. In order to do this, he said management would comprise 3 bodies namely; The Central University Management Committee of 16 members, The Top University Management Committee inclusive of the 10 College Principals, The University Management Consultative Forum which in addition to the Top Management Committee includes the Chief Security Officer, 3 MUASA Representatives, 2 MASA Representatives, 2 NUEI Representatives and 3 Guild Council Representatives. He said the University Management was making all efforts to practice an open and participatory management system to avoid taking decisions without consultations.

The Vice Chancellor explained that the objective of the meeting between University management and staff at the school of Law was to map out strategies on how to rebrand and improve quality of service, academic reform, administrative and financial restructuring and sustainability as well as institutional Human resource development.In order to improve the image of the University, management was committed to addressing the infrastructural challenges and that to date, a lot has been done as evidenced in the improvements on the roads, lighting, sanitation facilities and that more was to be done as resources flow in, he said.

Prof. Nawangwe however noted that what was of paramount importance in the effort towards rebranding the University was improvement in the relations between the University staff and clientele that include the students, parents and other stakeholders. “The way we treat people will determine whether we are rebranding or not. The way we engage with clientelefor instance the way support staff treat students isparamount and we need to realize that students are the main reason we are here” said the Vice chancellor while emphasizing the need for staff to improve customer relations more especially in offices that have regular student interactions citing the Academic Registrar’s office as an example.

While expressing his pride about the existence of high quality academic staff, Prof. Nawangwe stressed the need for management to ensure that in addition to having the right people the University policies are implemented. He cited the need for staff to publish papers and have them disseminated on the web in order to keep the international standing of Makerere University. He said this was also good for national development, adding that “the more we publish, the more information is given out to the public.” He however concurred with the observation by the Visitor that the University was not doing enough research on the conditions in Africa, despite the vision of becoming a research led University on the Continent.

While addressing himself on the issue of academic reforms and the college review processes, Prof. Nawangwe said work was in progress and that a preliminary report had been presented to the University Council. “Reforming Colleges was intended to have decisions taken at that level”, he said.  On the impasse concerning the evening programs, he noted that the programs although designed to cater for the working class, the reality was different and that a review was in process to inform the University council on the way forward.

On the issuance of Transcripts, the Vice chancellor said management decentralized the issuance to the colleges to reduce on the congestion at Academic Registrar’s office. It’s planned that with improved capacity at the Colleges, the printing would also be decentralized.The Vice chancellor noted that despite the refusal by the school of law to adopt centralized marking, the staff in the unit had marked and submitted results timely for which he commended them. He however said centralized marking was not only meant to ensure results are submitted  in time but also to increase efficiency and to minimize loss of student scripts as well as avoid allegations of sex for marks on the side of the staff.

The Deputy Principal on behalf of the Management and staff of the School of Law congratulated the University management for the consultative approach in the running of the University.  He said by training, Lawyers critique decisions more especially those imposed on them without due consultations.

 

Dr. Naluwairo highlighted a number of challenges affecting the smooth running of the School of Law citing the old dilapidated office structure that was technically condemned over forty years ago. He asked the Universitymanagement to make the School of Law a priority in the allocation of infrastructure that includes both offices and classrooms. He said because of lack of space the teachers were not readily available for consultations by the students. Relatedly, he mentioned the lack of storage facilities even for academic documents like examination scripts.

The Deputy Principal mentioned the challenge of inadequacy in teaching staff citing the example of the Environmental Law Centre which was established five years ago but to date no staff have been appointed despite the constant reminders. Relatedly was the embarrassment with the delayed payment of external examiners and other service providers that School of Law staff have had to bear in the past.  He urged the University management to expeditiously handle the issue of the Results system which he said unless resolved, there were bound to be continuous clashes between the students and the staff.

In the discussions that ensued, staff mentioned a number of issues that included Human Resource challenges like delayed promotions, poor communication in regard to contract renewal for post-retirement staff , lack of staff appraisals, operating a non-streamed structure for the secretarial staff, the Human Resource Manual that has unfavorable clauses for persons who may want to go on sabbatical vis avis inadequate staffing, the lack of a research fund specifically for the humanities that do not easily attract funders, inadequacy in library resources, the quality assurance concern arising from the high teacher student ratio, lack of plagiarism test equipment at Units, inadequacy in ICT facilities, the delayed accreditation of the School of Law to College status by the National council for Higher Education among others.

The respective directorate heads reacted to the issues raised. The Director Research and Graduate training, Prof. Mukadasi Buyinza while reacting to the request for publications from staff amidst resource constraints said management was considering instituting a research fund especially for the humanities. He said there were proposals for each unit to establish a Grants office and asked the School of Law to identify three people that would be trained. He further informed the meeting that the University press was revitalized and that the editorial board was in place and working.

The Director Quality Assurance, Dr. Vincent Sembatyasaid staff appraisals were centralized and that the information collected had been analyzed by his unit and would be shared with the respective units. He also mentioned that the National Council for Higher Education was expected to come and inspect the school of Law in the near future for accreditation.

The University Librarian Dr. Helen Byamugisha, while reacting to limitations in the number of books and other teaching resources said the University had not procured  bookfor a while. She urged the academic staff to embrace use of online materials adding that such electronic resources were enormous.

Staff appreciated this interaction between management and staff and commended the VC for this initiative. “This mode of communication will go a long way in improving service delivery. The management at the School of Law was asked to emulate the strategy of closely interacting with the staff.