By Charity Mlumbe
The decision by the Malawi University Council to raise fees with a margin of 400 percent has caused stir and uproar among students and parents accusing government and the University Council for being inconsiderate of the high cost of living and making it impossible for majority of people to access tertiary education in a country where majority of the people are poor.
The government through the University Council has hiked the fees of the public universities from the current MK55, 000 to MK275, 000 per year for Government sponsored students and MK940, 000 parallel students respectively. These fees have affected for the Chancellor College, Polytechnic, and College of Medicine students with immediate effect.
The University Council confirmed the development by saying the proposed hike is aimed at improving tertiary education whose poor standards have been attributed to inadequate resources, among other factors.
But according to the Polytechnic student Union president Owen Chikoti this fees hike is unjustifiable and unwarranted
“Polytechnic student will not bow down to these demand, we have made our demands known to the council and we are not going to school until our demands are met” said Chikoti
Chikoti also wondered why Unima has brought back the issue of hiking fees, arguing it was rejected when President Peter Mutharika was Minister of Education and the current Minister of Education, Emmanuel Fabiano, was Unima Vice-Chancellor.
The fees hike in University of Malawi is one of the contentious issues rocking the tertiary education in Malawi as the past efforts have met resistance and uproar from the public and politicians alike.
One of the concerned parents from Lilongwe Mr. Thomas Luwenga expressed the fear of another academic Saga like the one we experienced in 2011, Luwenga called this fees hike as ridiculous and an insult to the Nation. Luwenga wondered how poor Malawians will afford to pay such an amount at the University.
The former president Dr. Joyce Banda rejected similar move of hiking the university fees the same with Late Bingu wa Mutharika who both opted to have subsidized fees as a way of ensuring that poor Malawians will have access to affordable university education
The Principal Secretary responsible for higher education in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Patrick Kabambe, is on record of telling the media that an increase in fees at the moment would be justifiable.
“In general terms, the upward adjustment would be justifiable. It is not practical that [Unima] fees should remain where it is now. But, all I can say now is that the moment we receive the proposal, we will review it and make a decision.” He said
Efforts to speak to Unima registrar, Wokomaatani Malunga, proved futile as he was apparently out of office and his mobile phones were out of reach.