Is demand for salary increment by Makerere University staff justified

On 13th August 2013 and 14th August 2013 I authored an article in Red Pepper and New Vision on Financing Makerere University. This was based on facts and in good faith. Thereafter some staff have tried to distort facts. So I am compelled to provide further factual information on Makerere University using my institutional memory and information available to me as a member of Senate for 12 years, a member of Council for 6 years, Dean for 8 years, and Vice Chancellor for 3 years.

It is my duty as a Uganda and a Professor to provide researched information of public interest to the public. I appeal to my colleagues at Makerere University to take this in good faith otherwise why should universities exist?

The first thing to be noted is that Makerere University has at least 1,500 academic staff against a student population of not more than 35,000 translating into an average staff: student ratio of 1: 23. In science colleges the average staff: student ratio is about 1: 12 whereas in humanities the staff: student ratio is about 1: 25. As per the National Council for Higher Education this is a good staff: student ratio. Now staff establishments in Universities are based on student projections, say in the next five years. These in most cases are not realised. So it is misleading when someone determines the staffing levels of Makerere University using established positions in staff establishments.

The quality assurance policy of Makerere University requires every member of academic staff to teach a minimum of 12 contact hours per week as part of the monthly salary. Most courses at Makerere University have three contact hours and this would mean that per semester Makerere University runs 1,500 X (12/3) courses = 6,000 courses using only fulltime staff.

Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba
Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba thinks Salary increment demands are not justifiable

But we all know that Makerere University has several part-time staff. The courses taught at Makerere University per semester are about 2,500. The actual figures can be got from the University timetable. So its clear that academic staff at Makerere University teach an average of less than 6 hours per week instead of the minimum of 12 hours.

So what do Makerere University staff do during official working hours if they are not able to teach the minimum load of 12 hours a week as part of their monthly salary? I will give you a few examples:

Staff in the School of law either operate law firms or work with law firms and on average earn UGX 6 million per month from legal services. As much as they have the liberty to engage in legal services beyond Makerere University, staff with the same qualifications working as Grade one Magistrates, working in the Directorate of Public Prosecution and with the Solicitor General to mention but a few are not allowed to engage in such yet they earn much less than what Makerere University pays teaching assistants and all these are in the same public service.

Staff in the College of Health Sciences in addition to providing health services at Mulago Hospital as part of their employment run hospitals, clinics either as owners or consultants from which each earns an average of UGX 6 million per month by just looking at consultation fees only. Just do a survey and find out who is running all these hospitals, clinics within a radius of 200 km from Kampala.

Staff in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology are running consultancies. The most popular consultancy firm is Technology Consults where they earn not less than UGX 3 million per month.

The above trend is true for the rest of the University. In short academic staff in the University during the official working hours in addition to teaching, engage in other activities from which they generate additional income. These activities include but are not limited to part-time teaching, research, consultancies, projects, and services like legal services and medical (health) services. The income from these activities is not reflected on the payroll (monthly salary).

In addition, most colleges like College of Business and Management Sciences, School of Law, College of Computing and Information Sciences, College of Humanities and Social Sciences and College of Education and External Studies pay a monthly top where a Professor earns at least UGX 1 million per month from internally generated funds and this is not reflected on the pay roll (monthly salary).

Again the salary figures of a Professor earning UGX 3 million, Associate Professor UGX 2.9 million, Senior Lecturer UGX 2.4 million, Lecturer UGX 2.1 million, and Assistant Lecturer UGX 2 million at Makerere University are falsified to justify a salary increment. Let the Accounting Officer be challenged to provide the right figures. Today a Science Professor earns at least UGX 4 million on the University payroll and an Arts Professor earns at least UGX 3.5 million prolata.

In the Universities in Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Tanzania, South Africa etc that we have been comparing with Makerere University run a different salary model. All money earned by staff from other sources is declared to the University and becomes part of the University income and is integrated in the individual salaries of staff. This is not the case in Uganda. So really we should not compare apples with oranges. Further the GDP of these countries is different. We would rather come back to Uganda find out how much lecturers with master’s degrees in diploma awarding institutions earn compared to assistant lecturers at Makerere University, etc.

I will restate my position that the only staff at Makerere University that deserve an increment are the senior lecturers, associate professors and professors; the rest are earning enough as per the salaries in other related sectors in Uganda.

Lastly, let me provide a clarification on few issues that have been raised against me as a former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University. The audited books of accounts are there for everybody to see that during my term as Vice Chancellor we never posted any domestic arrears instead we reduced the domestic debt we found there. Before I left Makerere University in September 2012, I put it on record that Makerere University would be rated among the top five Universities in Africa by July 2013. So the recent ranking of Makerere University as the 4th in Africa did not come as a surprise. Remember that from September 2012 to June 2013 its just 10 months, so what contributed to the current ranking like research output in the last 10 months was already in the pipeline and with all due respect can not be credited to the Prof. Ddumba administration.

I am looking forward to congratulating the Ddumba administration for their efforts in improving Makerere University ranking from January 2014 onwards. My starting UTAMU (Uganda Technology and Management University) a day after handing over as Vice Chancellor has nothing to do with Makerere University as an institution but has a lot to do with my ability to move on and never look back.

If Makerere University staff cannot find factual and believable data to support the salary increment then they should give up on their demand. Resorting to raising salaries using internally generated funds again is committing suicide.

By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba
A Higher Education Expert and Former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University

February 25, 2019

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