Education experts have said unbundling of University of Malawi (Unima) would resolve long-standing governance and bureaucratic challenges.
Limbani Eliya Nsapato, in an interview on Thursday, said unbundling of Unima would encourage innovation in addressing current issues of financing and sustainability.
“The delinking will also minimise inefficiencies in tackling perennial problems of lack of harmonisation of university calendars, frequent closures of universities due to student riots and staff strikes.
“ Furthermore , t h e unbundling will help colleges to be autonomous and creative in addressing prior mandates in research, quality and equitable access,” Nsapato said.
The education expert said the unbundling would also help address differences in staff remuneration and boost career progression among academic and nonacademic staff in a less bureaucratic manner.
He, however, warned the unbundling may come with its own teething problems such as need for enterprising and forthright leadership; need for enhancing capacity (technical and financial) to ensure sustainability of the programmes; and transparency and accountability in public financial management.
Nsapato said there may also be the need for policy oversight so that the colleges do not turn a blind eye on their prior mandate.
“A good example is Bunda College which delinked from Unima to turn into Luanar (Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
It is observed that Luanar is becoming more selfsustained in terms of funding, research and programming.
“On the other hand, the other colleges operating under Unima are still stuck in the past and it is difficult for various departments under Unima colleges to grow their programming and produce advanced degrees at masters’ and doctoral levels due to the long-standing problems of bureaucracy,” Nsapato observed.
He suggested that once delinked, Unima Council and National Council for Higher Education (Nche) need to merge into one policy oversight institution that would work with Ministry of Education in providing policy guidance, ensuring quality assurance, and promoting networking and learning across public universities.
Another education activist Benedicto Kondowe said unbundling of Unima would help to bring sanity and enhance competition in higher education and growth of the institutions.
Kondowe, who is director of Civil Society Education Coalition, said structures that are at the University Office are the same as those found in colleges and it is in a way duplication of roles.