Parents that are bleeding for money due to the impoverishing coronavirus pandemic will thank their gods for touching the hearts of the Makerere university council.
On Friday august 20, 2021, the 23-member council, the university’s supreme governing body voted to halt the hitherto unpopular 15% tuition increment.
The policy which was the spark of many demonstrations by students was implemented two years ago with a view to help the university collect more funds to meet the needs of providing quality education to a 21st century student.
As per the policy, tuition fees would be increased cumulatively to 75% of the initial fees at the date of the policy’s commencement. The final targeted increment, however, was to be fully achieved over 5 years, which the increments staggered over 5 consecutive academic years.
As is the case with many new policies at the Ivory Tower, the move sparked off student protests dubbed ‘Fees must fall’. The ringleaders of the protests including NUP activist David Musiri and former Guild President Salim Papa Were among others argued that the increment was without proper locus because the students were not consulted yet they would be most affected by the fees hikes.
The students’ pleas however fell on deaf ears, with Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe later taking a militaristic stance which saw him suspend several students who were deemed to mastermind the fees protests. Later, he was backed by First Lady Janet Museveni who observed that the student protesters were unjustified since other universities like UCU were paying much more money than Makerere.
The tuition increment thus took off, having been cleared by the university council.
However, many parents came out to cry over the fees hike, arguing that as a public university fully funded by the Ugandan taxpayer, Makerere has the duty to ensure provision of education at the most minimal cost.
But basing on Friday’s decision, such parents will have a breather after the council chose to hold the policy for now.
Bar the students’ continued fight against the policy, the university council observed that with the covid-19 pandemic having obliterated the economy, so many parents are in economic limbo and as such hiking fees leaves many at risk of failing to educate their children.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports from the University indicate that online exams may not take place at Makerere. Sources say this was upon council’s realization that the university is still far from being ready to conduct the same. Fears emerged after students presented serious grounds for rejection of online exams. Pertinent among the students’ concerns includes; unreliable network as well as systems failures on the university’s muele portal where students are supposed to access reading materials. Should this be confirmed, then it is likely that the university may choose to conduct physical exams but under stringent observance of covid-19 SoPs.
Watch this space!!