Saturday, March 25, 2023

UB faces imminent collapse ÔÇô confidential report

A leaked document compiled by a University of Botswana (UB) senate shows that the biggest academic institution in the country is staring imminent collapse as its financial coffers will have dried up by December.

According to the document obtained by The Telegraph, the cash-strapped UB is surviving on its reserves which will be exhausted in two months time.

The document states that the institution continues to experience an unprecedented drastic reduction in the funds allocated by the government as well as an unpredictable pattern of disbursement of subvention amounts and tuition.

The document also shows that UB is facing organizational collapse as the government has decided to cut down on subvention since 2011.

Since 2013, tuition for the majority of students who are government sponsored has not been paid, the document says.

 “Between 2012 and 2016, the university survived by requesting for permission to use reserve funds that have been generated over the years from interest accrued from capital development funds deposited into UB bank accounts,” reads the report in part.

The report notes that the reserve funds will be exhausted by December 2016. 

“This could lead to the university not being able to pay salaries and meeting other financial obligations.”

In addition the report says the devastating financial situation at the institution has made annual planning most difficult and increased perceptions of financial instability and uncertainty that have contributed to the loss of some of the most talented and qualified employees to other organizations within and outside the country.

“Continued inadequate funding may lead to unplanned and unintended abrupt reductions in the scope of university operations, academic programmes, number of staff and students and this could tarnish the image of good governance and prudent stewardship that the university and the nation have cultivated as a national brand over the years. There is need to avoid a brewing financial crisis in which the university and government are not likely to emerge as a winner,” warns the report.

The report also condemns the government for establishing two other state owned universities arguing that the decision to increase the number of public institutions in an era of dwindling financial resources could result in inadequate funding for all public universities.

The result is that this could have  negative effects on the quality of higher education, and on future economic and social stability.

The report further states that the institution’s budget requirements have grown by an average of 10 per cent per annum.

“Facilities management costs associated with maintaining state ÔÇôof-the-art modern buildings have necessitated an increase in the total budget. In addition, the cost of recruiting and maintaining increasing numbers of highly trained staff in the Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences have increased, yet subvention and tuition received by the university has declined rapidly since 2011/2012 and has also become less assured,” reads the report.

It states that “As a body established by an Act of Parliament, the university requires an appropriation of adequate funds by parliament to enable it to function and a well thought-out budget is required to guide the scope of the day-to-day activities and operations of the institution.”

Last year, the university’s vice chancellor, Prof. Thabo Fako convened a meeting with representatives of all political parties in the country, in order to update them on the challenges facing the institution.

On Friday at parliament, Minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology; Dr. Alfred Madigele together with his deputy, Fidelis Molao played down concerns expressed by Gaborone Central legislator, Phenyo Butale. He had asked them the long term sustainability of UB as a public institution in the wake of recent cuts in student sponsored by government and failure to pay tuition to the university.

The quota system implemented by government this year is said to have negatively affected the institution with some departments like Theology and Religious Studies having no first years. Reports indicate that eventually the university will have to retrench some of its staff. According to the university website, there are about 20 directors, 9 deans, 914 and 1503 members of the academic and support staff respectively.

The government is of the view that UB must transform and not rely on government for funding anymore but rather become a self sustaining entity.


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