Malawi’s National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) wants public university entrance examinations scrapped across institutions to ensure a complete harmonised selection of students to public universities.
Currently, the University of Malawi (Unima) is the only institution that administers entrance examinations. Mzuzu University (Mzuni), the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar) and the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) adopted zero-entrance examination selection.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, NCHE corporate services manager Dingani Soko said the council wants students to be selected under the same conditions hence the scrapping of entrance examinations.
Soko said Unima is yet to give its position on whether it will continue with entrance examinations.
According to Soko, students who have been selected to Unima by NCHE and those that have not made it to other universities will sit for the Unima entrance examinations if Unima decides to continue with the examinations.
He said: “The harmonised selection is to the advantage of students and institutions. Students will no longer have to go through the burden of making several applications and institutions will not be forced to make second selections.”
Soko added that the harmonised selection will also involve the controversial quota system of selecting students, arguing it is a government policy. This will be second application of the controversial system under President Peter Mutharika’s administration despite the President committing to abolish it
Unima registrar Benedicto Okomaatani Malunga said Unima decided to conduct a study to establish the necessity of having entrance examination or not before it could make a stand.
Mzuni vice-chancellor Robert Ridley said harmonisation will curb wastage of space in public universities adding it will enable proper planning of academic activities by the university and students since selection will be done at once.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe welcomed the harmonisation process as students will be subjected to same conditions.
Kondowe condemned Unima’s resistance on the entrance examinations, saying they have no impact on quality of students selected.
Critics of the quota system have argued that it is discriminatory and retrogressive, arguing that some students with good grades are denied places in universities.