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University fees hike ill-timed

by Staff reporter
17 Mar 2021 at 06:26hrs | Views
The about 250 percent hike in university fees could not have come at a worse time for parents and guardians. As we reported, Government has approved fees increases for universities, following proposals by tertiary institutions.

The new fees will be effected next semester. At the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), Undergraduates will pay $24 000, Postgraduate $34 000, Masters $49 000 and PhDs $120 000.

The National University of Science and Technology (Nust) has pegged fees for Undergraduate courses at $32 000, Postgraduate $34 000 and Masters degree $45 000.

Great Zimbabwe University (GZU), Undergraduates will pay between $25 960 and $30 060, Postgraduates from $34 445 to $39 655, Masters' students will fork out between $37 750 and $44 045 while PhDs will pay from $45 000 up to $57 000.

Other institutions are yet to make public their charges after factoring in ancillary charges. The hike comes as individuals and businesses alike, are picking up the pieces following the recently ended Covid-19 induced lockdown.

It also comes as primary and secondary pupils are going back to school. It comes as salary negotiations between Government and its employees are ongoing. Most companies are putting such negotiations on hold until business picks up.

Getting all students to pay fees could prove to be impossible. Their failure to pay could also affect the operations of universities. Students' representatives have called upon Government to implement flexible fees payment plans to prevent most of them from deferring their studies.

''We appeal to Government to implement payment plans for students, to prevent most students from deferring their studies as most of our parents do not get much, therefore it becomes hard for them to pay the fees at once," said Spencer Masuku, who is a student representative at GZU.

This is a reasonable demand from the students. Very few parents have the money.

It is also a fact that the cost of running universities cannot be sustained by previous fees. What is needed, is to strike a balance between what the university needs and what the parents can afford.

Ancillary charges like registration, examination, maintenance, medical aid, technology, students union, sports levy, laboratory, travel, student development and fieldwork need a relook. Are all these charges necessary, or realistic in the face of the prevailing Covid-19 induced hardships.

Can't some of these charges be put on hold until such a time that the economy picks up or salaries are increased. Most certainly, students will not be enjoying all these services in the new normal.

Part time students do not use most of these services even when things are normal they are just forced to pay. Universities must be alive to the challenges facing ordinary Zimbabweans, they must not be motivated by their salaries alone. Most students will still have to pay for their own transport, accommodation outside campus and meals.

No student must be pushed out of university by exorbitant fees. These are State institutions and they should charge as such. Every civil servant must be able to send their child to university.

That is the measurement of what is fair fees.

Source - chronicle