Some five years ago, the Commission for University Education decreed that only doctoral degree holders would be allowed to teach in universities.
This was part of a strategy to enhance quality of teaching and learning and came during exponential growth of universities when quality was compromised.
Lecturers below that threshold were given up to 2018 to obtain doctorate degrees or forfeit their academic chairs.
Relatively, more lecturers with master’s degree enrolled for PhDs. But not everyone completed the programme.
Thus, many lecturers still teach at universities without a PhD. Among the many reasons for that is that universities do not have capacity to graduate many PhDs.
Last week, the labour court nullified that requirement on the ground that it was exclusionary as it was enacted without participation of lecturers, thus contravening the Constitution and labour laws.
This throws the CUE in a quandary. It has to rethink its regulations and guidelines. The intention may have been noble and rational but, in an era of rights, other factors come into play.
Lecturers’ mandate is to teach, conduct research and community service. The requirement for a doctoral degree is predicated on the premise that learning is better achieved when the lecturers have deep knowledge and understanding of their chosen fields of study.
Research presupposes top-notch skills and competencies are largely acquired at doctorate or postdoctoral levels. Linked to this is innovation, creation of new knowledge and publication.
Lecturing is not merely attending classes and administering and marking exams; it requires more competencies that are only obtainable through high-level training.
The ruling has sparked fresh conversation on the quality of teaching and learning in universities.
The lecturers should examine themselves and make an honest decision on their academic and professional growth.
That it is in their interest to acquire higher degrees to put them in good stead to progress and compete effectively in the academia.
Conversely, we have to examine the structural and systematic operations of universities to establish how best they can offer PhD programmes.
Reports about postgraduate training at various universities are, at times, not wholly edifying.
In the first place, universities do not have enough professors to supervise PhD programmes. They also lack facilities and resources for postgraduate study.
Admission for a PhD is defective; unsurprisingly, there are many unsuitable students on the programme.
Notwithstanding the ruling, universities have to facilitate the target faculty to pursue and attain doctorates for quality.
They must also revitalise and streamline postgraduate programmes to attract, retain and ensure students complete the course.