Shanice Aryatuha is set to switch from the bachelor of Science in Education degree to a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering program at Makerere University. She is among thousands of continuing privately sponsored who have made it to the government sponsorship scheme.
In July this year, Makerere University asked nearly 4,000 continuing students in public universities who sat their Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) in 2018, 2019, and 2020 to apply for government sponsorship for the academic year (2022/2023). “Eligible applicants should possess at least two (02) Principal passes at Advanced Level (UACE) or its equivalent obtained at the same sitting and at least five (05) passes at Ordinary Level (UCE) or its equivalent obtained at the same sitting.
Only candidates who sat A ‘Level in 2020, 2019, and 2018 are eligible”, read a document Makerere University released in July this year. Previously, only UACE candidates would be eligible to apply for government sponsorship in their respective schools through the Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB) each academic year.
However, due to the year COVID-19-induced lockdown, which resulted in the closure of schools and institutions of higher learning, UNEB did not conduct UACE exams in 2021, which means there were no eligible candidates to join universities this year. It is this that gave Aryatuha and thousands of other students who sat their UACE in 2020 to apply for government sponsorship.
Aryatuha, who scored 14 points told URN that she applied for Mechanical Engineering while filling the Joint Admissions Board-JAB Forms but failed to get into the program because the cut-off points did not favor her. “My points, the one I had at A Level could not really qualify me for Engineering while filling the JAB forms back at school I put all the Engineering courses but they did not consider me, so I applied for education after, and I was considered,” she said.
This academic year, 2022/2023, Makerere University lowered the cut-off points for the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from 43.0 in the last academic year to 28.6 for females. When the University invited continuing to apply for government sponsorship this academic year, Aryatuha who was already in the second semester of her first year, decided to try her luck and pursue her dream course.
When asked if she feels the stress of returning to the first year, Aryatuha admitted that she does, but she has nothing to do because she is pursuing her passion. She noted that she has given priority to the advantages that come with government sponsorship, which will relieve her parents of the burden of tuition.
Amon Kamusiime, who has been pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Education degree through private sponsorship is one of those who have gained from the new arrangement. Kamusiime told URN that his colleague advised him to apply for government sponsorship, which he embraced immediately.
Unlike Aryatuha whose program was changed, Kamusiime retained the same program. He, however, doesn’t have any regrets, saying that he has fancied the program from day one. Kamusiime is ready to start afresh from the first year despite completing the level previously.
“It affects me but there is nothing I can do with it, because there are many advantages that with it, for example, you pay little money during the course of your study, even when you go for teaching practice, you are given facilitations am happy with it,” he said.
He explains that “It will help my parents, I do come from a humble family, that’s why I applied because I wanted to give my parents some space to breathe, I have siblings who are still in school, and now the parents can support my siblings.”
According to 2021, Makerere University Undergraduate fees structure privately sponsored students doing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering pay 1,756,611 Shillings each semester for the four-year course while the bachelor of science with education costs 1,022,028 Shillings per semester.
The fees also come with another baggage of functional fees, which goes to 880,000 Shillings, a hostel or accommodation which normally ranges from 600, 000 to 1 million Shillings per semester, and feeding at a minimum of 10,000 Shillings per day, among other expenses.
However, having been given government sponsorship, most of these expenses will be covered. The government covers both tuition and function fees while students are always given meals and accommodation allowances exclusive to those who do not get placements in the halls of residence.
On September 20th, 2022, Makerere University published a list of 1,465 students who successfully got on government sponsorship. Bachelor of Medicine and surgery took the lead for government sponsorship with 73 students, followed by a bachelor of science with education biological which had 56 entrants.
The Deputy academic registrar, Charles Ssetongo told URN that they are yet to compile the final list of government-sponsored students since admissions are still ongoing. He said they are yet to admit students on district quota, and sportsperson scheme among others.