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Chaos over degree accreditation

TWENTY National University of Lesotho (NUL) students are in limbo after the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) terminated their sponsorship because their degree programme is not accredited.

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The students, who are in their third and fourth year, are pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting which is yet to be accredited by the Council on Higher Education (CHE).

The NMDS told the students last week to find other means to pay their tuition because it doesn’t sponsor unaccredited degrees and diplomas.
This is despite the fact that the NMDS sponsored them in the first and second years without accreditation. The secretariat is also sponsoring first and second-year students for the same degree.

The CHE’s director of quality assurance, ’Maseitlheko Moima, said the Bachelor of Arts in Translation and Interpreting “is one of the many programmes that are yet to be evaluated since the programme was introduced before CHE was established”.

“We were only established in 2010, so we are still evaluating the programmes we found at the NUL,” Moima said.
“We have not reached the BA in Translation and Interpretation yet.”

The 20 students are mulling legal action to force the NMDS to reinstate their sponsorship.

The student’s lawyer, Advocate Rasetla Mofoka, said the NMDS has violated its contract with the students by terminating the sponsorship.

Advocate Mofoka said the Higher Education Act is binding and that every programme should get an accreditation from CHE before accepting students.
He added that they were only surprised when the NMDS told the students that their sponsorship had been terminated.

“They are doing this while the students are in the middle of their studies,” Advocate Mofoka said.

He said the students’ contracts with the NMDS are clear that they could only be cancelled if the students do not abide by the terms.

He said the students should not be affected by the lack of accreditation because it’s the university that enrolled them and submitted their names to the secretariat for sponsorship.

“They (NMDS) should penalise the NUL and leave the students out of this.”

The Student Representative Council (SRC)’s president, Tumo Tsasanyane, said legal documents are already being drafted.

“Just imagine a student who enrolled for the programme three years ago and when they are supposed to sit for the final exams they are told that the programme is not accredited and their sponsorship is terminated,” Tsasanyane said.

The NUL spokesman ‘Mamosa Moteete said the management “is working on the problem and we will soon release an official statement on the matter so that the students know the way forward”.

CHE has confirmed that some degrees at the NUL and two degrees recently launched at the Lerotholi Polytechnic are yet to be accredited.
The council also issued a statement raising concerns about the accreditation of some courses at Botho University, Lesotho Agricultural College and some nursing schools it did not name.

CHE is yet to accredit Lerotholi’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Power Systems and Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Engineering and Telecommunications which have enrolled 20 students for their first intake.

The programmes have been elevated from a diploma level to a degree and these are the first students.
The students could soon be in the same boat as those at NUL.

Some told thepost that they took study leaves from their jobs hoping that the NMDS would sponsor them only to discover that the programmes are not accredited.

Nkheli Liphoto

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