Jenny Vaughan Kampala Makerere University has admitted 13,455 privately-sponsored undergraduate students for the 2009/2010 academic year, according to an official list released yesterday. Of the top 20 secondary schools on the list of admissions, 19 are in the central region. Out of the 30 schools with the highest number of students admitted to Makerere, only three are found upcountry. St. Marys SS Kitende had the highest number of students admitted, with 282 students on the list. Next was Lubiri Secondary School with 241, Namirembe Hillside SS with 230, Mengo Senior School with 226 and Seeta High School with 180 students. Rounding off the top 10 were Naalya Secondary School, Buddo Secondary School, Gombe Secondary School, Kibibi Secondary School and Makerere College School, all in central Uganda. The only upcountry school that ranked in the top 20 was Valley College Secondary School in Bushenyi. Not one school in the top 10 is located outside the central region. The dominance of central region schools in admissions to the countrys largest university suggests that urban students are getting a better education than their rural peers. This highlights the fragility of upcountry schools that suffer from endemic teacher absenteeism, poor funding and inadequate teaching resources. The urban bias among those admitted is in line with past trends. In previous years, most students who join Makerere have attended schools near Kampala. These are children of well-to-do parents, says Mr Phenny Birungi, the assistant executive director at the National Council for Higher Education. They have resources. He said additional costs like books and boarding fees that are tacked on to tuition charges at universities can be prohibitive for poor families that often live upcountry. Mr Birungi added that universities should make rural populations a priority when drawing up admissions lists but he did not think that their points should be inflated, as is done with all female students who get 1.5 points added to their grades when they apply to Makerere.