Tanzania's major universities UDOM and UDSM face staff shortage

What you need to know:

  • It is feared the shortage could negatively impact the learning processes because a significant number of those missing are the academic staff.

Arusha. Shortage of staff is hurting the leading universities, according to a report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.

The most critically affected are the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and the University of Dodoma (UDOM).

UDSM, the country’s oldest institution of higher learning, currently has a shortage of 2,479 members of staff.

On the other hand, UDOM, which was established slightly less than 20 years ago, has to grapple with the shortage of 856 staff members.

It is feared the shortage could negatively impact the learning processes because a significant number of those missing are the academic staff.

The report which dwelt on the general performance of the education sector has attributed the crisis to a number of factors. These include the expansion of the academic programmes at the two leading universities, especially UDSM, and mandatory retirement of some workers.

UDSM started in 1961 as a constituent college of the University of East Africa with one faculty - Faculty of Law. It was elevated to the current status in 1970.

It has since expanded both in terms of student enrollment at its main campus alongside introduction of new academic programmes.

While some UDSM campuses in the early days, the Muhimbili (medical) and Morogoro (agricultural) faculties were transformed into full-fledged universities, new constituent colleges were created.

These include the Dar es Salaam University College of Education (Duce) at Chang’ombe and the Mkwawa University College of Education in Iringa.

The two colleges were primarily set up to focus on the training of teachers for secondary schools in response to the growing needs of the academic instructors.

Within the main campus, however, the country’s premier university, has seen both horizontal and vertical expansion of structures and increased enrollment of the young learners.

The report tabled in the Parliament in Dodoma said the shortage of workers at the two institutions was not only confined to the lecturers but other support staff.

The Tanzania Commission of Universitites (TCU) has often expressed its worries on the looming shortage of academicians in the universities.

It says the growing number of student enrollment in recent years has not matched with the recruitment of the academicians needed.

Recently, the Tanzania Higher Learning Institutions Trade Union Union estimated the shortage of academic staff in the universities at 44 percent.

The shortfall of the scholars, in particular, is feared could compromise the quality of education if not addressed.

“Among the challenges facing UDSM is shortage of the 2,479 staff members”, the report said, largely attributing it to expansion.

UDSM, like other institutions of higher learning, was not merely an ivory tower detached from the day-to-day lives of the people.

“The university has and continues to play an important role in national development. It is often roped in strategic national plans”, the report said.

It has been routinely involved in designs, consultancy and management of the mega projects, specifically those pertaining to infrastructure development.

The House was further told that UDSM has contributed to the preparation of the National Development Vision 2025 and implementation of the 2021/22 - 2025/26 five year development plan.

UDOM, which took off in 2007 with three faculties, currently has a shortage of 856 staff members; both academic and non-academic.

The university, one of the largest in the country in terms of student enrollment, is also facing a shortage of student hostels.

Currently, it has 57 buildings for student accommodation. A total of 2,000 spaces are needed for accommodation of the young learners there.

The challenges facing UDOM, a public university relying largely on the state coffers for its expenditure, have been attributed to budget constraints

Although it was established only 17 years ago, UDOM is also grappling with the dilapitated infrastructure, including water supply network.

It is currently getting only 33 percent of its daily water demand due to failure to upgrade water intake to cope with the growing population of students and the staff.

The report by the Parliamentary Committee on Education, Culture and Sports dwelt on the performance of the three sectors in the period of February 2023 to January this year.