The process of registering Private Higher Education Institutions

Registration of private of higher education institutions is guided by section 19 of the National Council for Higher Education Act, which reads:

  1. No person other than a public higher education institution or organ of state shall provide higher education unless that person is registered or provisionally registered as a private higher education institution in terms of this act.
  1. An application for registration of a private higher education institution shall be made to the Council by submitting to the Chief Executive Officer in the prescribed form and be accompanied by the prescribed fee and such other further information and documentation in support of the application as the Council may request.

The Council shall evaluate and verify the suitability of an application in terms of the minimum standards for higher education set by the Council.

In accordance with various provisions in the National Council for Higher Education Act, NCHE has established a database of registered institutions. The list includes institutions registered by Malawi Government prior to the establishment of the Council and newly registered institutions. Such existing public and private institutions are covered in section 36 of the NCHE Act which reads:

  1. Any public or private higher education institution in existence at the commencement of this Act shall be deemed to be duly registered with the Council.
  2. A higher education institution shall be deemed to be in existence if it –
  3. has been established by an Act of Parliament;
  4. holds a Charter granted by the Minister; or
  5. is otherwise registered with the Ministry responsible for higher education.

The registration of new institutions has been pursued vigorously in order to contribute to the wish of Malawi Government to increase access to higher education. So far, there are 45 public and private institutions of higher learning registered. For more on the list visit our website:

In terms of the NCHE Act, the following considerations are borne in mind when assessing institutions for registration:

  1. that the institution is a body corporate;
  2. that the institution or the facilities to be provided by that institution are suitable and meet the minimum standards for higher education set by the Council.
  3. that the institution is financially capable of satisfying its obligations to prospective students
  4. that the teaching staff to be employed by the institution is sufficiently qualified.
  5. that the higher education to be provided by the institution is of a quality that will enable the institution to provide a standard of education no less than the minimum standards set by the Council.
  6. that the institution shall ensure that no person is discriminated against on account of race, ethnic origin, political affiliation or opinion, religion, sex, or Human Immune Deficiency Virus or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome status, gender, physical disability  or other  status  in respect  of

i)  the admission of students
ii) the recruitment of staff, and;

  1. that the establishment of a higher education institution is in the interest of higher education in Malawi

Upon satisfaction of requirements stipulated above, which have been operationalized through the Minimum Standards, an institution may be granted final registration.  Where there are minor shortfalls or where the Council is satisfied that the proposed institution may be given opportunity to implement certain specific recommendations, an institution might be granted provisional registration.

In accordance with section 20 (3) of the NCHE Act provisional registration authorizes an institution to:

  1. set up a governing body for the proposed institution;
  2. commence or continue to develop physical facilities and mobilize financial and human resources;
  3. commence or continue to assemble academic resources; and
  4. publicize the programmes of instruction expected to be offered at the institution.

Provisional registration is valid for one-year cycle from the date it is issued or as the Council may determine [section 20 (6)]. An institution granted provisional registration may not admit students as stipulated under section 20.

(4) provides that “Students shall not be admitted while a higher education institution holds a provisional certificate”. Upon carrying out an inspection of the institution, final registration is granted to a provisionally registered private higher education institution.

The Council may recommend to the Minister who may grant a Charter if satisfied that the establishment of the institution will further the development of higher education in Malawi. The Charter can be amended and it can be revoked if the Council is satisfied that a private higher education institution-

  1. has failed to carry out its objectives; or
  2. has breached its Charter in any material respect; or
  3. is not carrying  out  its  functions properly; and
  4. that it is in the interest of higher education in Malawi generally for the Charter of a higher education institution concerned to be revoked.


The Act requires that the procedure leading to revocation of the Charter should involve engaging the governing body of the institution and approval of the Minister responsible for higher education.

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