Are public universities privately owned?
By Opio Jackson
There are five public universities in South Sudan, these Universities are supposed to be controlled by the Ministry of Higher Education in terms of admission of students, increment of the tuition fees and suspension of lectures which must be done with the knowledge of the ministry.
Public university is publicly owned by the government just like other government institutions, they are unlike private universities. It is unfortunate that the public universities in South Sudan are operating like private owned institutions.
Few weeks ago, President Salva Kiir had ordered for the suspension of the tuition fees after the Juba University administration decided to increase the fees for the 2019 academic year.
The Council of Ministers pointed out that increasing tuition fees at this time would deprive many students of their educational opportunities
President Kiir who is also the Chancellor of the five public universities in the country sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor of University of Juba to suspend the decision immediately. But to the contrary the administration of University of Juba decided to suspend all lectures until further notice.
At this point the President’s Order had not been followed by the University of Juba administration because the president did not call for the suspension of the lectures.
The public understands the dire need of the Universities but this should not put the learning on hold as the government is working on how to meet the costs of running the institutions.
This brings us back to the point of a needed cooperation between the government and the public universities’ administration; the vice chancellors have a duty to cooperate with the chancellor just like the ministers do cooperate with President.
There is no way the public universities can aim at promoting relevance education in the country if the administration does not cooperate with the government.
The five public universities must be kept operational and if any of the Vice Chancellors thinks that the university cannot operate until the government meets their demand then it is better to resign than keeping students hostages.
As a tradition, there is no way that a public institution operates as if it was a private institution. Public institution always receives order from above and must be in the interest of the public because it is owned by the public.
However, any lack of coordination and collaboration between the administration of public universities and the government can lead to poor performances of the students and the lecturers as well. The lecturers will not put greater emphasis on high-quality instructions to students.