The University of Zimbabwe is revising the recently announced hike in tuition fees of up to $500 000, described by many students as unaffordable and beyond the reach of their parents and guardians.
At the same time student leaders want to have the matter dealt with in negotiations between the administration and the students, without interference by those with a political agenda.
Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Mapfumo said the university was seized with that matter and urged students to remain calm as the administration is seeking to reach a common ground with the student representative body and other key stakeholders.
In an interview with The Herald, Professor Mapfumo yesterday said the university registrar had two closed door meetings with the Student Representative Council and they were looking forward to having another round of discussions today.
“We are engaging key stakeholders including the Student’s Representative Council. It is feedback that we value. The registrar had two meetings today and we are expecting to have a round up meeting tomorrow,” Professor Mapfumo said.
SRC president Allan Chipoyi yesterday urged students who had gathered to protest to leave room for a dialogue.
Yesterday, hundreds of University of Zimbabwe students briefly held a procession over the fees hike and some raised concern over some rogue elements within the opposition who want to use the recent fees hike for cheap politicking.
“We are appealing to the university Vice Chancellor to reconsider their first position.
“The current tuition fee is not in tandem with the prevailing economic conditions.
“However, we are very much concerned with some politicians who want to hijack the school fees issues. We don’t want any interference. More often than not our genuine concerns end up being rendered useless because of too much politicisation,” Dean Mushawatu, a tourism student said.
Another student, Simbarashe Mukoyi, said the increase was reasonable as it is meant to uphold the quality of the education, but called upon the Government to subsidise fees to cushion students against high inflation.
“Yes it was imminent due to rising costs, We were expecting a slight increase and the rest to be subsidised considering the current economic conditions. We sincerely seek Government intervention in this regard, otherwise the tertiary dropouts will be higher than never experienced before.”
Another student who preferred to be identified as Mutsa, a journalism student, said many students might fail to achieve their goals if the fees issue remained unresolved.
“We are scared that we won’t have the chance of fulfilling our dreams of graduating because our parents won’t afford to keep paying the fees. If tertiary fees keep rising like this then who will go to university?”
Another girl who requested anonymity said she was even afraid to tell her mother who is struggling to raise her accommodation fee.
“My mom is a single mother. I did not even inform her about the new development.
“I am just hoping that the university will review downwards so that it becomes affordable,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Student Union UZ chapter also issued a statement encouraging students to shun calls being made by individuals who are pushing their own agenda.
“We encourage students to remain calm as the union is working tirelessly negotiating and engaging relevant offices for fees review. Students should not be involved in demonstrations which are being influenced by opposition leadership and individuals pushing their agenda.”
According to the new fee structure, undergraduate students are required to pay anything between $300 000 to $500 000 depending on their faculty.
Students pursuing a Master’s degree will have to fork out up to $700 000 also depending on their faculty and students are expected to pay the fees by September 30. Herald