The First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni has advised all heads of both public and private universities to plan to invest in the endowment fund which will become a critical source of revenue for their institutions of higher learning in future operations.
She said universities worldwide cannot survive on tuition fees or Government support alone because these funds are insufficient to run all their activities.
“The university endowment fund would provide a critical source of funding in times of need when unanticipated problems like the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted into current closure of all educational institutions come up,” she said.
“So please, consider establishing an endowment fund in your plans and a committee to manage this fund for your institution,” she told Vice Chancellors.
Janet was this week on Wednesday chairing a meeting to brainstorm on how to solve the challenges facing private universities because of the continued closure of all education institutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
She observed that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a wakeup call to people, government sectors, universities, schools, businesses and other entities that it is not practical to live from hand to mouth in the world today.
The meeting at State House Entebbe was attended by Minister of State for Higher Education John Chrysestom Muyingo, State Minister for Primary Education Rosemary Seninde, State Minister for Sports Hamson Obua, State Minister for Planning David Bahati, officials from National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), Higher Education Students Financing Board (HESFB) and representatives of the leadership of the Uganda Vice-Chancellors’ Forum.
While responding to private universities’ Vice-Chancellors’ plea for Government support, Mrs. Museveni said Government is cognizant and appreciates the work and contribution of private universities to nation-building but noted that because of the heavy burden it is facing to provide for literally everybody, it currently doesn’t have adequate resources to bail them out with grants and offsetting their wage bills.
She however introduced them to the possibility of benefiting from low-interest rate loans from recently recapitalized Uganda Development Bank (UDB).
She promised to table their proposals before Cabinet for further discussion on their viability.
“We hope there will be some solutions before the education institutions are reopened,” she said.
In their presentation read by Rev Can Dr. John Ssenyonyi, the Chairman Uganda Vice-Chancellors’ Forum, the private universities’ leaders expressed fear that if there is no help during and following COVID-19 pandemic, the private higher education institutions may be forced to close either partially or fully.
They recommended cancellation of all outstanding tax obligations of their private universities and requested for an “income tax and pay as you earn” holiday for one or two years arguing that when the institutions reopen after COVID-19 pandemic, they will be faced with financial hardships including “depleted bank accounts and students unable to meet their fees obligations.”