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Reforms in the University of Dar es Salaam: facts and figures1

Olivier Provini
p. 77-86

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Tanzania | Tanzanie
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  • 1 A large part of this paper issues from a chapter published in French (Provini, 2012).

1The integration of African higher education systems in a multipolar world has been shaped through global economic forces, the rapid growth in communication and the action of international organizations. Since the end of the 1980s, African universities have been faced with demand pressure for higher education with limited funds because of economic crisis and the reorientation of governmental policies on promotion of primary education within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). African universities have also been confronted to the imperatives of structural reforms to implement new international standards, symbols of their integration into a competitive global system. The model of the university developed right after independence, based upon the articulation between the state and its public institution, is vanishing.

2Considering its “socialist” initial path and its adaptation to the market economy in the mid-1980s, the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), the historical, oldest and biggest university in Tanzania, is a notable model of evolution of public policy in a neoliberal context. UDSM was first established in 1961 as a college of the University of London. In 1963, it became a constituent college of the University of East Africa. A clear division of labour was introduced: Makerere was a pre-eminent institution in East Africa, with an established strength in medicine and great reputation in Liberal Arts and Agriculture; Nairobi concentrated on Engineering and Business; and the college of Dar es Salaam specialized in Law and Development studies. UDSM became an independent national university in July 1970 (Cooksey et al., 2003: 1).

3In this paper, I examine the impact of budgetary restrictions on reforms introduced in the 1990s. This approach based upon quantitative data deals with the articulation between state and external donors investments to understand how, finally, a new higher education market get structured.

The process of the university reforms

4In the 1980-1990’s, the government of Tanzania initiated some global reforms to answer political and economical crises (Kelsall, 2002). The education sector in the country was then facing major constraints arising out of economic hardships: the war against Idi Amin Dada’s Uganda, the sharp increase in prices of petroleum products and the drastic fall in volume and prices of agricultural product exports (Luhanga, 2009: 43). The higher education sector itself was confronted to a serious financial crisis in terms of both recurrent and capital development budgets. For instance, the number of government fellowships available was very limited. The public system of higher education was caught between these declining governmental revenues and a growing demand from secondary sector.

5The Tanzanian state was hugely dependent upon international aids and consequently upon donors’ “recommendations,” which focused on the central role of primary education in national development. From 1986, the World Bank put forth in a series of policy papers an array of concrete recommendations to change universities. The central idea was based on the controversial argument that the rate of return on investment in higher education was much lower than in primary education: “Within the education sector, however, there is evidence that higher education investments have lower social rates of return than investments in primary and secondary education… In these countries, the Bank’s involvement in higher education will continue to be mainly to make its financing more equitable and cost-effective, so that primary and secondary education can receive increased attention at the margin” (World Bank, 1994: 84-85). Between 1992 and 1998, 61% of the Tanzanian budget for education went to primary education and only 21% to higher and technical institutions.

Table 1: The sharing of the budget for education sector, 1992-1998 (%)

1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Primary education 51 52 63 65 67 67 62
Secondary education 15 14 10 7 7 9 7
Teaching of teachers 5 4 3 2 2 3 2
Higher and technical institutions 20 23 20 21 20 17 24
Administrations and others 9 7 5 5 4 5 5

References: Kimambo et al. (2008: 234); Oxford Policy Management (2000: 8)

6During the same period, UDSM embarked upon major transformations through the implementation of financial and managerial reforms. This process led to the adoption of the Institutional Transformation Programme (ITP), the university’s reform guidelines, in 1991. The rationale of this programme was that university infrastructures, governance and curricula did not match the needs of society and market. The role of the university, fixed in the 1960-1970’s, appeared to be in contradiction with new political, social and economic realities (Luhanga et al., 2003: 136-151).

7The adoption of the ITP followed different steps. In the 1988-1989 academic years, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Dar es Salaam undertook a major review of its activities. The School wanted to stop brain drain at the Faculty, improve professional productivity and teachers’ wages, enhance linkages with market and expand research and postgraduate training (Luhanga, 2003: 1). This review resulted in the reorganisation of the Faculty’s organisational structure, including the setting up of new units which can be considered as pioneers in UDSM reform process. At the same time, the central administration of the university prepared a report, the Management Effectiveness Review. This report synthesized all previous studies and recommendations concerning university dysfunction (esp. governance, infrastructure and budgetary difficulties). Discussions were concluded in 1991 with the adoption of ITP, also referred to as “UDSM 2000” (Luhanga, 2003: 2). A committee, called the Program Steering Committee (PSC), was set up to manage the transformation program. It was aimed at creating quantitative data to evaluate lacks within the university and organizing some debates with internal and external actors around the drafting of the Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP). This document covered all the aspects of the institution, from the basic concepts of higher education to aspirations, goals, objectives and the philosophy upon with the envisaged reform process was to be built (Cooksey et al., 2003: 15-16).

The reinstituting of cost-sharing policy and the status of public institution

8In response to its financial crisis, UDSM turned to private revenues. The policy of cost-sharing, whereby costs are shared by governments, parents and students, was prioritize as the main source of private revenues. The policy of cost-sharing in higher education was not new to Tanzania. It existed during the colonial period and post-independence Tanzania until 1967 (Baroin & Constantin, 1999; Crozon, 1996; Martin, 1998). During the colonial period and even after independence, students in higher education institutions paid tuition fees. In 1967, the Tanzanian government decided to grant scholarships to all students admitted to UDSM, which was then the only public university. Cost-sharing in higher education sector was officially reinstated in January 1992. The policy was implemented in three phases. In phase 1 (1992-1993), students and parents were required to pay transportation, application registration, entry examination and student union fees; in phase 2 (1993-1994), they had to pay for food and accommodation only; in the last phase (2004-2005), they were required to pay tuition and examination fees, books, stationary costs and medical insurance. The notion of “producer responsiveness” is premised on the assumption that cost-sharing through tuition fees and other modalities will make students and theirs families more discerning consumers and universities more cost-conscious providers (Ishengoma, 2004: 104). The other argument is grounded on the idea that it induces greater independence for the university structure and actors, as they do not depend exclusively on government budget. Despite the existence of privately sponsored programs, such student admissions have remained very low. In 2002, privately sponsored students on the main campus of UDSM numbered only 13%. Compared to the Makerere University success story of privately sponsored students (Mamdani, 2007), the Tanzanian policy is a failure.

Table 2: The enrolment of private students, 2002-2004

2002 2003 2004
Main campus 945 1,451 2,142
UCLAS 48 54 63
MUCHS 182 197 212
Total 1,175 1,702 2,417

Reference: UDSM (2005: 43)

9Despite the financial crisis, especially between 1991–1994, the study of UDSM budgetary evolution shows an important increase in funding allocated by the government: from USD 7,797,373 in 1987-1988 to USD 16,544,895 in 2004-2005. Though rising, this investment is nonetheless insufficient compared to the increasing number of students enrolled. In other words, there is a manifest inadequacy of the budget to match the needs of the university, all the more so as UDSM is compelled to create new faculties and curricula to answer an increased demand for higher education. The decrease in the amount allocated by the Tanzanian government to one student clearly reveals this inadequacy: from USD 2,697 in 1987-1988, it dropped to USD 1,362 in 2004-2005 (see Table 3).

10A hybrid model of scholarship and student loan is currently in place. Since the academic year 2002-2003, the government has imposed quotas for scholarships which cover all university fees. The system of student loans, introduced in 2005-2006 to partly cover tuition fees, other academic fees, room and board, finances the great majority of student in B.A. At the end of their studies, students have to repay their loans but many do not. This situation produces considerable economic damage for the state. On 24th and 25th December 2009, the governmental institution HESLB (Higher Education Students’ Loans Board), which coordinates loans of students, engaged a great advertising campaign in the national press. Around 30,000 students, over 48,000 since fifteen years, did not recover their loans, namely a damage estimated at USD 32 million by the Ministry of Higher Education. The students’ names were published in several newspapers through an official press release. The director of the communication of HESLB, M. Samson Mwaisoba, declared that the “cheating students” had to recover their loans as quickly as possible. In fact, students had to draw the authorities’ attention to begin procedures of recovering. Several sanctions (as academic and banking) were set up to encourage students to start applications. The Tanzanian government wishes to better follow refunds of borrowers (Provini, 2012).

  • 2 UDSM was closed in 1990.

Table 3: Evolution of student and staff enrolments compared with budget allocated by the government, 1987-20052

Year Budget allocated by the government (USD) Student population Budget allocated by the government for one student (USD)
1987 7,797,373 2,891 2,697
1988 8,070,521 2,743 2,942
1989 9,161,054 2,839 3,227
1990 10,436,304 - -
1991 15,025,497 2,801 5,364
1992 10,930,898 2,992 3,653
1993 8,336,914 2,968 2,809
1994 7,810,904 3,869 2,019
1995 8,356,847 4,291 1,948
1996 10,778,142 4,589 2,349
1997 9,685,495 5,220 1,855
1998 11,493,644 5,483 2,096
1999 12,427,426 6,318 1,967
2000 16,754,605 7,089 2,363
2001 13,935,690 7,493 1,860
2002 15,391,693 9,233 1,667
2003 16,689,547 9,769 1,708
2004 16,544,895 12,144 1,362

References: UDSM (2005: 43); Cooksey et al. (2003: 8); UDSM (2000: 23-24); Luhanga et al. (2003: 112); Kimambo et al. (2008: 235)

The main role of donors

11Since the beginning of official development assistance, the education sector is a main area of intervention of the international community (Vinokur, 1987). This investment fluctuates with dominant economic thinking. Although in the 1980-1990’s, the top priority was lending for primary and secondary education rather than for higher education, two World Bank documents in the 2000’s show a radical turn in higher education in Africa and is now giving emphasis to universities across the continent (World Bank, 2000 & 2002; Brock-Utne, 2003: 27). The budget allocated by external donors is fundamental for the university operations. At UDSM, between 1998 and 2004, the university received around USD 71 million in bilateral aid, especially from the Swedish International Development Agency/Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation (USD 29,918,588), the Joint Financing Programme for Co-operation in Higher Education from Netherlands (USD 14,012,456) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (USD 9,766,521). In 1998, funds allocated by external donors represented 46% of UDSM’s budget and 36% in 2004 (See Table 4).

12If the government is the main investor in UDSM’s budget, it drastically reduced its investment in the research sector. Research at the university has long been strongly subsidized by the Tanzanian state (Harrison et al., 2009), but since the 2000s, the research sector has mainly been financed by external public organisms. External agencies contribute up to 99% to the university research sector in 2000-2005.

Table 4: Budget allocated by external donors, 1998-2004 (USD)

External donors 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Total
SIDA/SAREC 3,785,714 3,989,571 4,685,714 4,450,400 4,166,000 2,831,189 6,010,000 29,918,588
MHO/NPT 1,241,472 2,148,438 2,148,438 2,363,281 3,286,964 2,823,863 - 14,012,456
NORAD 2,682,851 1,185,641 906,500 1,241,529 1,250,000 1,250,000 1,250,000 9,766,521
VIR 643,789 601,643 613,514 613,513 339,772 - - 2,812,231
NUFU 475,844 500,138 931,804 836,711 755,344 423,257 701,699 4,624,797
CARNIEGE - - 1,964,410 1,288,848 1,237,742 1,856,751 1,207,022 7,554,773
Others 1,011,942 1,010,800 360,228 - - - - 2,382,970
Total 9,841,612 9,436,231 11,610,608 10,794,282 11,035,822 9,185,060 9,168,721 71,072,336

References: Luhanga et al. (2003: 113); Cooksey et al. (2003: 8 and 32); UDSM (2000 & 2005: 83 and 91-93)

Table 5: Funds allocated by external donors in UDSM budget, 1998-2004 (USD)

Year Budget allocated by the government Budget allocated by external donors Total Percentage of funds allocated by external donors in budget (%)
1998 11,493,644 9,841,612 21,335,256 46
1999 12,427,426 9,436,231 21,863,657 43
2000 16,754,605 11,610,608 28,365,213 41
2001 13,935,690 10,794,282 24,729,972 44
2002 15,391,693 11,035,822 26,427,515 42
2003 16,689,547 9,185,060 25,874,607 35
2004 16,544,895 9,168,721 25,713,616 36

Table 6: Budget in research sector at the UDSM, 1999-2005 (USD)

Year Budget allocated by the government for research sector Budget allocated by donors for research sector Others Total Percentage of funds allocated by donors in budget of research sector (%)
1999 526,529 2,306,958 0 2,833,488 81
2000 12,580 2,519,871 0 2,532,451 99
2001 10,395 1,832,944 0 1,843,339 99
2002 11,747 1,120,230 535,285 1,667,262 99
2003 12,861 2,178,537 399,743 2,591,141 99
2004 13,163 2,822,569 285,830 3,121,562 99

Reference: UDSM (2005: 54)

13Donors invested in staff training, scholarships, infrastructures and the research sector. Relations between donors and UDSM can be developed through two channels, either by direct relations between an external agency and a faculty, or by indirect relations between donors and the university central administration. In this case, it is the university, with agreement of a given donor, which reallocates money to several faculties. These modalities of financing reveal the unequal market-attractiveness of faculties. The university report titled “Self-Evaluation of the Sida/SAREC Bilateral Research Cooperation Programme 1998-2008” shows that social sciences are the “losers” of such investments (UDSM, 2007: 43-63). Moreover, the key transformation brought about by external funding is the withdrawal of the government in the research sector. This huge dependence can generate perverse effects for curricula but, more generally, is a danger for research, which is dependent on internal reorganisations of these organisms. For instance, the Norway embassy (Havnevik & Isinika, 2010: 57-70), through its agency NORAD/Oslo, recently reduced its investments, especially in humanities departments, for the reason that its development strategy now focuses on climate and energy. NORAD/Oslo has now developed a partnership with another state university, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), in Morogoro. This new configuration directly impacts on the global functioning of faculties, and more generally, on the university. Furthermore, Sida/SAREC support accounts for about fifty per cent of the donor support. This support has lasted for over thirty years. For UDSM, the challenge is to ensure that Sida/SAREC maintains, increases and diversifies its support. This interference is harmful to the independence and autonomy of the university in the short- and mid-term.

14With the reducing of state investment in university research, a main evolution is the increase of consultancy practices. One ITP priority was the development of relations between academic staff with donors and society through consultancies. Currently consultancy is becoming one priority of teachers’ missions of teachers and UDSM’s functions, as stipulated in the strategic plan for the period 2003-2008: “to be a producer and supplier of key policy makers, experts and personal for national development” (Lawi, 2008: 45; Luhanga et al., 2003: 106-107). Consultancy is an important condition for teachers’ careers advancement. Though the economic factor is an obvious reason (to improve their wages), consultancies can also ease UDSM staff’s research conditions, especially for publications. At UDSM, these projects increased from 308 in 1999-2000 to 531 in 2003-2004.

  • 3 The main partners are the World Bank, SIDA/SAREC, DANIDA, UNICEF, NORAD, the African Development C (...)

Project of consultancies, 1999-20033

Year Project of consultancies
1999 308
2000 447
2001 487
2002 403
2003 531

Reference: UDSM, 2005: 58


  • 4 In 1996, six private institutions were opened: the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, the Internat (...)

15The university reforms implement during in the 1990-2000’s have created a new market in which students, teachers, faculties, public and private universities are in competition (Ishengoma, 2004). The government liberalized the provision of higher education in 1995-19964 with the establishment of private higher education institutions. In the academic year 2006-2007, students in private universities represented 24% (or 12,410 students) of the total enrolment (51,652 students) in all universities in Tanzania. As one can see, UDSM is transforming into a service provider, where students are consumers and teachers are considered experts (Charton & Owuor, 2008: 115) and an instrument for external agents, and where knowledge is a commodity.

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1 A large part of this paper issues from a chapter published in French (Provini, 2012).

2 UDSM was closed in 1990.

3 The main partners are the World Bank, SIDA/SAREC, DANIDA, UNICEF, NORAD, the African Development Co-operation, Overseas Development Council, AIDS/CAP, UNDP, ILO, WHO, FINNIDA, CIDA, IDRC, USAID, UNFPA, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, FAO, the African Development Bank, SWISSAID, EU, UNESCO, USIS, OSSREA and the CODESRIA.

4 In 1996, six private institutions were opened: the Hubert Kairuki Memorial University, the International Medical and Technological University, the St. Augustine University of Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College, the Makumira University College and the Iringa University College.

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