By Nenenje Mlangeni

My own analysis of harmonised Malawi public university intake for 2017-2018 has shown that 4772 candidates made it into the public universities (LUANAR, MZUNI, MUST &UNIMA) representing 32% of 14,843 candidates eligible.

This is an increase over last year’s intake of 4647 and 4037 for 2015-2016. Further analysis shows that equity selection policy was used, which saw top 10 candidates from each district selected first and the rest selected based on both merit and size of population of district of origin.

Consequently, no district has been discriminated from selection into public universities contrary to critics. Analysis of variance between declared spaces and those selected per district shows a +- 2 as common variance although some few districts had higher variances.

Due to high population size the following were the top most allocated: 1. Lilongwe (526); 2. Blantyre (347); 3. Mzimba(304); 4. Mangochi(281); 5.Kasungu(244) and Ntcheu (244). On the other hand the folowing districts were least allocated but with a variance of -1 to +3 : 28. Likoma (14); 27. Mwanza (42); 26. Neno(49); 25.Rumphi(69); and 24.Chitipa (71). Males represented 59.8% of the intake while females represented 40.2%, an improvement of 10 percentage points over less than 30% seen before 2010.

Interestingly, under the current selection regime the Vice President’s home district of Ntcheu had 28 more students selected than the President’s district of Thyolo that had 216 students.

Although the rest of students not selected could find their way into private universities, therefore is need for government to expand public university infrastructures in order to increase the space by at least 3 times and ensure that at least 20,000 eligible candidates can be selected automatically.