University of Zambia (UNZA) deputy vice chancellor Prof Enala Mwase says the institution has maintained its world ranking of 2,500 out of 25,000 other universities, but still seeks to do better.

Speaking when she featured on ZNBC radio 4’s The Platform programme, Tuesday, Prof Mwase explained that UNZA had maintained their ranking of 2,500 out of 25,000 universities globally.

“As University of Zambia, we have maintained [our ranking] at about 2,500 if not less in the world and here we are talking about universities over 25,000! And in Zambia we are still ranking [as] number one. Of course, we are not impressed with that and we are working everyday to improve our image, our ranking and we do look at those issues that would put your image as a university up there. And of course as a university, the main core functions of course teaching, research and community service and all these things require quality. So, those are the issues that we are always working on,” Prof Mwase said.

She said examination malpractice was not only a university challenge but a national one.

“If you enter an examination room with material, which is related to what you are writing’ you are disqualified and expelled. And when you get expelled, there is no time limit, and all students are aware of this rule. So, it makes very sad reading to me that students, despite having that very clear regulation, they still go into examination classes with prohibited material. I wouldn’t say this is a problem for the University of Zambia only, recently we saw what happened in grade seven [and] nine examinations, which had to be postponed because of the same,” Prof Mwase said.

She also said that accommodation still remained a great challenge for the university.

“Accommodation really comes [as] an issue. At inception or in the early times of the University of Zambia, the infrastructure in terms of accommodation would only get about 3,600 [bed spaces] but now because of the demand of education we find that now we have to enrol up to 24,000 or so, meaning that accommodation is an issue. But then the private sector has come to assist with the mushrooming of boarding houses around. These have assisted [but] of course] the quality is something else, but they have assisted. So, this is an ongoing challenge which we are finding solutions as we move,” Prof Mwase said.

“I agree that we need to have constant interaction with the students leadership. But for this new UNZASU that has been ushered in, we have already had a meeting and we think we should continue having meetings.”

She, however, added that UNZA had partially legalised squatting in order to lessen the university’s accommodation challenges.

“These are 18,000 [full time] students [against the bed space of 3, 600] So, here we are looking at the demand for education and I am not running away from the fact that, really, on infrastructure development, the University of Zambia, which is a government institution, has not done so well. But in the interim, we have sort of legalised a little bit of squatting. We have started a project where we are making some bunker beds so that we have at least four students in a room as opposed to two. It’s already happening and so far we have already made about 300 bunker beds,” explained Prof Mwase.

Meanwhile, Prof Tembo said UNZA had opened up an Alumni branches in South Africa and in the USA for graduates to make contributions.