Juba University Faces Closure

Juba, June 28, 2017 (GMN) - The Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba on Saturday said that the university may face closure before the end of the academic year should the government and development partners fail to give support for the school to operate smoothly.

“Now without additional support from elsewhere or from the government, our university is likely to close down before completing this current academic year,” he said.

Professor Akech made the remarks at the 20th graduation ceremony of Juba University, where 1,045 students graduated with diplomas, degrees, masters and PhD in the different collages.
Akech, whose graduation speech was dominated by challenges facing the university, said that the university is grappling with inadequate lecture halls; poorly equipped laboratory, and limited offices for lecturers and shortage of accommodation facilities for students.

“At the moment our lecture halls are fully packed, more lecture halls need to be constructed soon before 2018 to accommodate the growing number of students,” he said. “Not planning ahead is planning to fail ahead.

University of Juba currently has about 9,000 students, and the number is expected to grow up to 18,000 by 2018, according to the Vice Chancellor.

The VC said the meager resources they collect from students no longer meet fluctuating costs of commodities due to inflation.

He said a medical student pays an equivalent of 40 dollars a year, and economics student pays about 2,000 SSP a year, which is incomparable to the 20,000 US dollars tuition charged by some West African universities.

“This amount is not enough to buy even a single text book,” he said.

Prof Akech said with the current rates, the university can collect about 30 million SSP if all the students pay, and spend about 4 to 5 million SSP to operate the university per month, compared to 400,000 pounds three years ago.

He said the state of the university needs great attention from the government.
Professor Akech also said the university council has not met for two years, making it hard for the management of the public universities to resolve and amend some of the policies that hinder performance of the universities.

He said the universities are running on admission policies of Sudan, which should be amended to the context of South Sudan.

He blames this on the dormant council of higher education, whose chairs were appointed close to two years ago, yet the members to the council are yet to be appointed.

“In our view, it is important to reactivate the dormant council of higher education so that these issues are deliberated and agreed on in order to create more productive working relations with the ministry of higher education and the universities,” he said.

Akech noted that the government needs to come up with innovative ways of funding higher education so that it can deliver on its mandate.