THE University of Zambia (UNZA) says it has seen an unprecedented enrolment of about 8,034 registered first year students in the 2021/22 academic year, explaining that the institution is responding to the growing demand for university education.
According to sources, the institution over-enrolled and admitted more than 500 students in the School of Law and over 1,000 students in medical school, despite having limited lecture rooms.
The sources said management imposed the numbers despite lecturers opposing to the same.
“UNZA over-enrolled students in law school and medicine. Law school alone has admitted more than 500 students but has no lecture venue that can accommodate more than 500 students. Medical school was forced to admit 1,200 students but equally has no lecture rooms. So there is a crisis. Half of the students are outside while the lecturer is teaching. The lecturers were opposed but management imposed the numbers,” said the sources.
But in response to a press query, UNZA chief registrar Theresa Chalwe said the increase in enrolments in the school of law and medicine was approved by the University of Zambia Senate.
“The University of Zambia Management is alive to the fact that the institution has seen unprecedented enrolment of about 8,034 registered first year students in the 2021/22 academic year. This is the University’s response to the growing demand for university education in the country, especially among the youth. It should be noted that the increased enrolments in the School of Law (500) and Medicine (1,700) were approved by the University of Zambia Senate. In this regard, all undergraduate programmes in all the Schools, except programmes in the School of Education, have enrolled the required number of students. The School of Education, has however, experienced a drastic decline in the number of enrolments,” she said.
“The introduction of direct entry and award of student loans has motivated the school leavers to apply for programmes they wish to pursue. This has contributed to a situation where certain programmes have more students than others. Therefore, the overall increase in student enrolment is modest but will require re-allocation of teaching spaces and increase in laboratories. It is worth noting that the high numbers while new in the two Schools is not new to the University since some Schools have traditionally enrolled large numbers which have been effectively managed. The high number of student enrolment is a reflection of how the University is esteemed by a large section of society, parents, guardians and many other stakeholders as far as provision of quality education is concerned.”
She said to avert the challenge of sitting space for programmes with large numbers, deans had divided large classes into streams.
Chalwe added that students were encouraged to change and register to other schools that were undersubscribed such as Schools of Education, among others.
“The University is aware that some programmes which include Law and Medicine have higher numbers of students than the available largest lecture theatre with a sitting capacity of 350 students. In order to avert the challenge of sitting space for programmes with large numbers, the deans in the Schools have divided the large classes into streams that can comfortably fit in a lecture theatre at a time,” she said.
“In addition, this year management has put in place the following measures in order to address the increase in student numbers: (1) In the two Schools where there has been over enrolments, students are being encouraged to change and register in other Schools that are under subscribed such as Schools of Education, Mines, Agricultural Sciences and Humanities and Social Sciences. A significant number of students have taken this route. (2) To cater for practical sessions at the School of Medicine, a prefabricated Anatomy laboratory will be constructed soon from internally generated resources. (3) Some of the bigger classes at the Medical School have been moved to the Great East Road Campus where there are bigger venues.”
Chalwe said the University Senate had constituted a special committee which would review the admission process in order to avoid over enrolments in the next academic year.
“Moving forward, the Senate has constituted a special committee which will review among other things, the admissions process in order to avoid over enrolments next academic year and the academic progression regulations for students at all levels. Further, the University has continued to grow its infrastructure in order to address the challenge. In 2021, with internally generated funds, the University of Zambia commissioned the new learning and teaching complex with two lecture theatres which can accommodate a combined number of 700 students. In addition, with the support from Africa Development Bank and the Ministry of Education, an ultra-modern teaching and learning complex between the School of Engineering and School of Mines is at 95 percent completion and is expected to be commissioned soon. The building is housing, among other facilities, two lecture theatres with a combined sitting capacity of 800 students,” said Chalwe.
“Further, construction of another teaching and learning complex at the Graduate School of Business (GSB) is progressing well. The building at the Graduate School of Business will house a lecture theatre and tutorial rooms with a combined sitting capacity of 550 students. The GSB teaching and learning complex is earmarked for completion by July 2022. The University with the support from the World Bank is also constructing the Africa Centre of Excellence for Infectious Diseases of Humans and Animals (ACEIDHA) Building which will house among other facilities two lecture theatres with a combined sitting capacity of 180 students. The ACEIDHA Building is at 98 percent completion and it is hoped that the commissioning can be done before the end of the 2nd Quarter of 2022. The University Management is therefore doing everything possible to ensure that all students learn in a conducive environment and that learning and teaching facilities are accessible to all learners.”