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Academic Drift of Tanzania’s Non-University Higher Education Institutions: Its Impact on the Higher Education System and Development of Middle-Level Workforce

Johnson Muchunguzi Ishengoma


Tanzania’s public non-university higher education institutions were established in the late 1960s and early 1970s to train skilled middle-level workforce critical for post-independence Tanzania’s social and economic development. These institutions were mandated to train public servants in public administration and management, accountancy and financial management, materials management, community development, social welfare, nursing and clinical medicine, rural development planning, tax administration, journalism, engineering, agriculture and livestock development, among other disciplines, at three qualification levels: certificate, ordinary diploma and advanced diploma levels. Following the liberalisation of the higher education policy in the late 1990s to allow higher education institutions to respond to new labour market demands, non-university institutions drifted into degree-granting institutions, abandoning their three-year advanced diploma programmes in favour of the so-called “professional degrees” but retaining their certificates and ordinary diploma programmes. This paper, using extensive documentary and literature reviews and a critical search of the institution’s websites, documents the hitherto undocumented phenomenon of academic drift of Tanzania’s non-university institutions, its possible causes and impact on the higher education system and the development of middlelevel workforce. The paper concludes that the academic drift of non-university higher education institutions in Tanzania has blurred the higher education system, i.e. it has eliminated differentiation and diversity in higher education (the important aspects of an effective higher education system) and curtailed the balanced development of the skilled middle-level workforce.