PARLIAMENT Members of Parliament have poked holes in Makerere University’s new fees increment, saying it contradicts government’s policy of providing free and inclusive education.
The University Council recently approved a 15% tuition increment for the new students starting in the next academic year that starts in July.
And while presenting the government approval of the new fees policy on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday, the Minister of State for Higher Education, Dr Chrysostom Muyingo, said the new increment was fair compared to the 49-91 percent that had been suggested by the University Council, adding it was intended to enable the university provide quality services to students.
However, several MPs shot back, accusing government of putting the tuition burden on private students and yet its contribution to the university has remained small.
“Time and again, Makerere is being run by the private students; government subvention has remained constant,” said National Female Youth MP Anna Adeke.
“We have to exercise equity between private and government students; Makerere University is still a public institution of higher learning, why must private students shoulder the entire burden,” asked Adeke.
Dr Muyingo had earlier said Makerere was right to increase the fees, arguing that education in Uganda is cheaper than other public universities in the region. Mr Muyingo said the students guild had in their research discovered that fees at Nairobi University is way higher than Makerere.
However, Rubaga North MP Moses Kasibante asked why the government would bench mark Kenya yet they two countries are economically different
“How come when we were amending Article 102 (b) we never bench-marked Kenya, but we should take its price for education?” Mr Kasibante said.
Kitagwenda County MP Abbas Agaba (NRM) added: “The reason we have public universities is to enable education for as many as possible; meaning that the governments should shoulder responsibility for as many Ugandans as they can. In fact, our argument has been that we widen the coverage that the government sponsors as many students as possible and that we even reduce the number of private students in government universities.”
Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah intervened and urged the MPs to raise a motion where the matter will be further debated.
Makerere University council on July 9 approved a 15 percent tuition increment across all programmes effective August 2018/2019 academic year as proposed in the students’ leaders’ committee report.
Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the University Vice Chancellor confirmed the development saying “…University council has approved a new fees structure for undergraduate students starting August 2018/2019, next academic year, with an increase of 15%.”
The council’s decision comes a week after a 15-member student committee constituted by the Guild President; Papa Were submitted a report suggesting a 15 percent tuition increase for only new students instead of increasing tuition by 49 per cent and 91 percent, as it were in the earlier management proposal.
However, a section of students’ leaders have since vowed to strike over the now effected increment saying it is not reasonable for many students.