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Report: Govt approves University fees hike-Zimmagazine

Some State universities have announced their new fees structure which will see students paying between $25 000 and $40 000 per semester. The fees were hiked from an average of $9 000. The government has approved fees increases of up to 250 percent for universities, following proposals by tertiary institutions.

Universities have said the new fees will be effected next semester. Students have decried the new fees structure, saying it was pushing tertiary education out of the reach of many.

Some universities shared the fees that will be paid, inclusive of ancillary charges like registration, examination, maintenance, medical aid, technology, students union, sports levy, laboratory, travel, student development and fieldwork.

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.

Fees for other universities could not be verified by the time of going to print, but they hover around similar figures. GZU director of information Anderson Chipatiso yesterday confirmed the institution had increased tuition fees from $9 000 to between $25 000 and $40 000 depending on the degree level.

He said the prevailing economic challenges necessitated the adjustment. “Indeed fees for students were increased. Refer to www.gzu.ac.zw for more details. And the increase is meant to keep the institution running in the prevailing economic situation,’’ said Chipatiso.

Nust director for communication and marketing Mr Thabani Mpofu said the fees hike was not yet official. Students called upon the government to implement a flexible fees payment plan to prevent most of them from deferring their studies following the fee increases.

‘‘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.

Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Development, Professor Amon Murwira said the new fees have been approved.

‘‘Universities brought their fees adjustments proposals and as the Ministry, through all consultation processes, we approved the fees proposals in February,’’ said Prof Murwira.

Prof Murwira said the fees increase was justified given the need to capacitate universities in this prevailing economic situation and that universities need adequate resources to run.

Prof Murwira said fees are adjusted annually in January when there is need and the Government only approves proposals from tertiary institutions.

‘‘The fees, revision committee for universities discuss the fees adjustments and submits to the Ministry for approval, the Ministry does not direct fees hike. It’s either we disagree or agree. Our adjustments are based on set processes,’’ he said.

Prof Murwira said the fees approval is done annually at the beginning of the year and institutions should not hike fees during the course of the year, they should maintain the fees proposed at the beginning of the year.

‘‘Once we agree on fees hike at the beginning of the year, even if the economy thrives, institutions are to maintain the proposed fees as the approvals are done annually,’’ said Prof Murwira

Last year Government set university fees at between $3 500 and $5 000 per semester depending on the programme, arguing that there was need to balance the desire for quality education and affordability.

The Government set maximum tuition fees between $3 500 and $5 000 per semester for universities, depending on course, while tuition at colleges was set at between $500 and $1 500.

Ancillary fees, accommodation and meals were left to the institutions to determine.  Minister Murwira defended the fee rise limits, saying they were reasonable and were commensurate with the increases in civil service salaries.

The government also availed $90 million last year for students’ loans as it moved to ensure that higher education is accessible to all including the poor.

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