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Categories of government sponsorship and entry requirements in public universities


ABOUT THE ARTICLE: This is a summary of a presentation that the author made at a Careers Guidance fair on June 8 at the Islamic University in Uganda Females Campus at Kabojja. The Fair was organized by the Union of Muslim Professionals in Uganda.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fatumah Nakatudde works at the Makerere University Academic Registrar Department and College of Health Sciences.

There are five Public Universities in Uganda, including Makerere, Mbarara, Kyambogo, Gulu and Busitema.

There are three avenues through which one can access university education: i.e. Direct Entry, Diploma Entry and Mature Age Entry. 

DIRECT ENTRY Requirementsfor a first degree, one must have:

  • An Ordinary Level certificate with a minimum of Five Passes or an equivalent qualification.
  • Passed the Advanced Level Subjects with at least twoPrincipal Passesat the same sitting.
  • Other Specified Requirements which a candidate should fulfil to gain admission to a particular programme in a particular unit.

Currently, the total number of beneficiaries of Government Sponsorship per year is 4000 students.

Categories of Govt. Scholarships

For national merit, the scholarships are divided into three categories:

·         Programmes Critical to National Development, to which   75 percent, or 3000, slots are allocated.

·         District Quota – 896 slots

·         Special Schemes – 64 slots

·         Persons with Disabilities – 64 slots

·         Talented Sports Persons – 40 slots

These are equally shared between female and male and between and sciences and Arts.

Programmes Critical to National Development currently include: The natural science programmes and some Arts-based ones e.g. Bachelors of Law, Industrial and Fine Art, Commerce, BIP, Economics, Development Economics, Population Studies, and Arts with Education (International languages).

The District Quota scheme enables candidates to be admitted to a programme and course of their choice including those that are not identified as critical as may be specifiedby the concerned university. Parents of the candidate have to be residents in the district and have a home there and the candidate studied from a school within outside the district. Candidates must be Ugandans.

Talented Sports Personsare identified by the respective Sports Associations which forwards names to the National Council of Sports which in turn forwards to them the Ministry of Education and Sports.  The Ministry communicates to public universities before the release of Advanced Level results. 

Successful candidates must continue with sports after admission.

There’s an additional 1.5 points for female candidates in line with affirmative action applicable to both Government and Private-sponsored female applicants, including Ugandans and non-Ugandans.

A student may apply for a maximum of ten programmes – 6 choices for national merit and 4 choices for district quota. For tertiary institutions, the choices are 4; these include National Teachers Colleges, Uganda College of Commerce, Uganda Teachers Colleges and Paramedical institutes.

The Weighting Criteria


            Subject Category                















The Essential Advanced Level subjects for University Programmes must be passed with at least a Principal Pass, and not more than two subjects are designated as “Essential”.

For programmes where “Essential” subjects may be three or more, the best performed two subjects constitute the essential subjects for the candidate.  The third best done subject from the Essential is designated as the “Relevant Subject” and weighted “two”.

However, with effect from the year 2012, the government policy stipulates that no candidate shall take more than three subjects at the principal level and the criteria is likely to be changed soon. 

The Conversion Scale

The required weight for one’s admission to a particular programme is arrived at as follows:

EXAMPLE:   Weighting for Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery for a candidate with the following Advanced Level grades:

Biology – A

Chemistry - A

Physics– C

General Paper - D1

(Here both Biology and Chemistryare essentials)

And assuming Ordinary Level grades are as follows: - 4 Distinctions, 3 Credits, and 3 Passes. 

Advanced Level

Ordinary Level

Biology     A

6X3   =  18


0.3X4  = 1.2

Chemistry     A

6X3   =  18


0.2X 3 = 0.6

Physics   C

4X2   =  08


0.1X3  = 0.3

General Paper  D1

1X0.5 =  0.5

Sub total


Sub total



Grand Total





Candidates are admitted according to weight, and cut off points are determined by the available number of places per programme and performance of the applicants.



0 #1 muhumuza samuel 2013-07-09 12:50
Thank ue 4 tis helpfut information. ...God bless ue
0 #2 ASIIMWE BENJAMIN 2014-12-06 11:52
Im by astudent just have finished form six i come from apoor family and i would wish to join public university at governmentsponsership.....

i did geography,econo mic,agriculture , and submath but for sure i dont believe to pass submath because it was harder to my side.

kindly before fillibg my jabform i beseech you to direct me with the options to fill that can take me at university on government.

my EMAIL: .

phone:+256784924245 or +256751360366.
i will be happy if my request is put under your sympathetic consideration.
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