In its own defence, the University of Namibia says bio chemistry courses are pure science courses and not medical, therefore no accreditation is required from the Health Professions council of Namibia (HPCNA).
This response comes after The Patriot last week reported that the course were below the required standard. In the said report, it was confirmed that students graduating with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and bio-chemistry programmes are facing employability challenges as the programme is not registered with HPCNA.
University blamed UNAM for the situation, saying the university is taking in 100’s of students to produce field research which is not available in Namibia.
The Dean for the Faculty of Science, Dr. Ndeyapo Nickanor said: “Biochemistry is not a medical degree but a pure science degree, and therefore does not qualify to be registered with HPCNA. Our graduates are able to work as analyst or researchers in various science-based industries and laboratories but cannot practice as medical professionals.”
“Our programmes are accredited with relevant authorities such as National Council for Higher Education as per UNAM regulations. This is because our programs (Chemistry & Biochemistry) are academic programmes and not professional programmes.
Pure Science/Academic degrees like our Biochemistry programmes are not professional degrees and this is a worldwide practice to the best of our knowledge and also based on international institutions where all scientists in the department received their training.”
Nickanor further explained: “This is typically common knowledge about academic degrees and one cannot expect to be registered with bodies such as HPCNA if you are not doing a professional medical degree.
The program is accredited by NCHE through Centre for Quality Assurance and Management (CEQUAM). Students are aware of what they applied to study for and what to pursue in future.
However, we take note and we will add information regarding this in the faculty prospectus.
Perhaps the individuals concerned may also contact CEQUAM for further clarification on academic vs professional degrees offered by institutions.
Nickanor further emphasized that the purpose of the BSc Microbiology (honours) is to provide the students with scientific knowledge and exposure which can allow them to be able to solve practical problems that are science related.
“The students know all this even before taking the course because the information is in the prospectus and various flyers, banners and information distributed during career fairs and other platforms,” Nickanor elaborated.
The relevance of academic programmes over professional programmes is still questionable as graduates are up in arms about the job market for those specific programmes that is too small to accommodate the graduates.
The HPCNA last week said the courses have not been accredited despite being offered to students, further stating that the health council has informed UNAM about the shortcomings in the course that needs to be addressed for learners to be registered with the council.
The deputy registrar of the HPCNA Crispin Mafwila, at the time, said the university has not submitted any curriculum to the council, therefore graduates cannot be allowed to register and practice. HPCNA has been established as a governing body of all allied health professions.
The council regulates the registration of persons practicing health professions.
“In terms of section 16 of the Medical and Dental Act, 2004 no healthcare related course which is registrable under this Act must be offered before approval by Medical and Dental Council of Namibia.
Therefore, UNAM has not applied or submitted a curriculum in Medical macro biology and Clinical Biochemistry courses hence UNAM’s course in these fields is not registrable by Council as they are not approved,” explained Mafwila.
Some of the graduates now want UNAM to offer a one year course which is inclusive of the outstanding modules required by HPCNA.