Until 1997, Malawi had only one University (UNIMA) where selection of students into the university had less challenges as the UNIMA Central Office coordinated the selection process.
With the establishment of MZUNI in 1997; LUANAR in 2011 and
MUST in 2013, selection challenges arose because each University
was conducting the process individually. As a result, some students
were selected into more than one University. Since the academic
calendars are not synchronized, some students under government
scholarship could start a programme in one university, and then a
few months later leave for another university. This resulted in a waste
of resources as well as blockage of the limited university places to
other well deserving candidates since it is too late for most of the
affected universities from where the students leave to conduct sec
ond selection, thereby defeating the whole purpose of increasing
enrolment, unless a re-selection is done.
NCHE Act was enacted in 2011 to address a number of issues in
Higher Education including harmonization of selection of students to
all public universities in Malawi. The first harmonized selection took
place during the 2014/2015 intake. This started with meetings from
June 2014, culminating into a harmonized selection meeting and a
review meeting that took place at Sunbird Nkopola Lakeshore Resort
from 30 March to 4 April, 2015, and on 4th May 2015, respectively.
Since the establishment of the additional three public universities
namely MZUNI, LUANAR and MUST, NCHE released a single call
for application into all four public universities in the land. This was a
land mark as candidates were only to make one application. Unlike
the previous years when a single candidate would spend the hard
earned money to apply to the four public Universities separately.
With 100 programmes from the four public universities a total of 18,069 candidates submitted applications of whom 17,346 met the mini
mum requirements for selection. Candidates had to make Seven choices from the 100 programmes.
A total of 3684 spaces in all four public universities were declared, representing a rate of 21.7% of the qualified. These were distributed as
a) Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources – 896
b) Malawi University of Science and Technology – 302
c) Mzuzu University – 572
d) University of Malawi – 1914.
The actual selection was conducted by various universities Selection Committees as provided for in individual universities Acts. The Selec
tion Committees transacted their business independently followed by the harmonization of the selection lists, which was coordinated by the
National Council for Higher Education in interludes.
There were policy, legal and logistical challenges which required mutually agreed upon solutions. Selection was done using the equity
policy of selection whereby top ten candidates from each district are offered places first and the rest are selected based on both merit and
the size of the population of their district of origin. Many qualified candidates with very good aggregate could not be accommodated. Some
of these candidates were not selected because of a mixture of reasons including limited capacity of institutions.