Malawi Govt bureaucracy affects opening of science university

Despite having fewer public universities, Malawi Government’s red tape is affecting the official opening of the country’s fourth public university, Nyasa Times understands.

Government is yet to show commitment on the institution, Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), almost two years after completion of its construction.

Officials have announced this week the university, situated at Ndata Farm in Thyolo District, will open its doors in January 2014 despite lacking several things.

The university was constructed with a grant from Chinese Government but the current administration appears to have very little interest because it was build within the campus of former President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Officials visiting Malawi University of Science and Technology at Ndata Farm in Thyolo
Officials visiting Malawi University of Science and Technology at Ndata Farm in Thyolo

Furthermore, government slashed its proposed budget of K7 billion (about $17.5m) which was meant to finalise other units before opening to just K1.6 billion (about $4m).

For instance, the imposing university, a colour dream of former president late Bingu wa Mutharika, has no staff houses, library books, water supply, laboratories, furniture, among other equipment while its road network is also incomplete.

This was disclosed Tuesday when MUST Team Leader Dr. Moses Chinyama briefed members of Malawi Parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Human Resources who toured the campus to appreciate the institution.

Chinyama said while Malawians appreciate the magnificence of the university, most units were yet to be completed while plans were underway for its opening.

“The library has no books or equipment. The cafeteria is ready but we need to put in furniture. We don’t have laboratories, yet these are very crucial to this institution,” he disclosed.

Despite such development, officials are worried that government bureaucracy might delay the procurement of the necessary items ahead of its opening.

It was revealed during the briefing that in the initial planning stage of the university laboratories, books, furniture, road network, housing and other equipment were not included.

And MUST Council Chairperson Prof John Saka pleaded for support from the members and the entire National Assembly to ensure the institution, whose motto is ‘Doing business unusual’, is opened.

UNESCO pledged to support the institution’s curriculum and staff development.

Currently, the water supply system is being worked on and is expected to be ready by October 2013 while electricity from the main ESCOM grid will be connected by December 2013. At the moment, authorities made temporary arrangement of power supply to the institution.

The university’s first intake will be concentrated on Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, Bachelor of Engineering in Metrology and Materials; Master of Science in Innovation and postgraduate diploma in entrepreneurship.

The university is, however, yet to determine fees and selection criteria of the first intake targeting 140 students but officials said council will determine when it meets soon.

The university has the capacity to enroll up to3 000 students.

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