THE Higher Education Authority (HEA) has registered 19 private universities in Zambia under the 2013 Higher Education Act, which replaced the 1999 University Act.
Out of the 19 registered private universities, 10 are new while nine are old and were part of the 33 private higher learning institutions registered under the Repealed University Act No. 11 of 1999 as at December, last year.
HEA director general Stephen Simukanga, who confirmed the development to the Sunday Times said applications from the other private universities were being verified.
Professor Simukanga said the HEA’s directive for all private universities to re-apply in accordance with the Higher Education Act No. 4 of 2013 provisions was to guarantee quality tertiary education in Zambia.
“Yes, we have had this influx (of universities), but we have started the process of ensuring quality in the delivery of our learning programmes,” he said.
Prof Simukanga said in June, this year, the Authority would have all registered private universities gazetted and published in the press for the public to know the higher learning institutions which had met the minimum requirements in accordance with the Higher Education Act.
He said the Authority would not allow private higher learning institutions to operate if they were not registered under the Higher Education Act and it would dispatch inspectors to the registered universities to verify the given information in their applications.
Prof Simukanga, the former University of Zambia vice chancellor, said the other way the Authority was promoting quality higher education was by harmonising the universities’ learning programmes which it was accrediting and sending to the Zambia Qualifications Authority.
“If another university comes to say they want to accredit a similar programme (as that of another university), we will tell them ‘No, this programme has already been accredited, you have to use that programme that was accredited, you have to use that content of that programme.’
“The idea of doing that is if 10 universities are giving the same programme, it will be the same content instead of having different variations, at least the basic curricula will be the same, you can add one or two things, but you have to give the basic curriculum that has been accredited,” he said.
He said accreditation of university programmes, including those offered by public universities, was expected to start in June, this year, as the Authority was currently creating a data base for committees of experts in various fields.
The Authority was established to, among others, set standards for higher education, quality assurance as well as to register and accredit private higher education institutions.