Government budget cuts for tertiary institutions have resulted in the country losing out on much needed foreign partnerships as crucial specialised programmes have had to be put on hold.
The University of Namibia (UNAM) had planned this year to introduce several courses in architecture and anaesthetics, but these (and other) programmes have since been put on hold due to budgetary constraints.
Speaking in a recent interview, outgoing UNAM Vice Chancellor, Lazarus Hangula, said that procrastination has made the institution “lose out.”
He said UNAM had lost out on a number of funding contracts due to delays in starting new programmes.
“We wanted to start a programme in architecture and so we wanted to align ourselves with the best expertise from Russia and Italy. These governments were ready to offer us the best experts from their countries, but the programme had to be delayed until 2019,” he said.
The programme in anaesthesia was also postponed for two years due to a lack of finance, although the partners were prepared to pay for four staff members to receive training.
“When dealing with other institutions you have to give them time and they have to plan, so if you keep cancelling they will think you are not serious,” Hangula said.
Earlier this year, UNAM Chancellor, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, requested that more money be injected in the university so that it can meet its obligations.
In recent years, UNAM has received a budget allocation of N$1,1 billion per year from Treasury to deliver services to its learners.
However, it was only allocated N$600 million in the 2017/2018 financial year to provide high quality services to 25,000 students registered for the academic year.
Critics have said that the existing demand for trained staff in the country with appropriate skills will not be met I the short term because of funding constraints on higher education institutions.
For example, they predict that it would take Unam no less than 40 years to train adequate numbers of medical doctors in the country, at the current enrolment rate.