Makerere University Council has bowed to pressure and suspended the controversial 15 per cent cumulative tuition increment for two years due to disruptions by Covid-19, which has left most parents unemployed and has wiped out their incomes.
The vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, told Sunday Monitor in an interview on Friday that the council’s decision followed a request from the students guild council, which pleaded that students are unable to meet the high tuition fees in the prevailing circumstances.
“The decision was made after a request by the guild president, citing hardships brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the university management and council, we sat and heeded the student’s request, ”Prof Nawangwe said.
The university council, in 2018, approved the 15 per cent cumulative tuition increment three weeks to the 2018/2019 academic year, with the move affecting new students who joined the institution in August.
This policy was to be implemented for five consecutive years from 2018 to 2023.
This meant that after five years of implementation of this policy, a student who was paying Shs1.5m tuition fee would be required to pay Shs2.6m.
Consequently, the university students staged several demonstrations to force the university to reverse the policy on the grounds that students from unprivileged families would not be able to afford education at the university after the five years of implementation.
The university had then declined to heed the students’ demands.
In a separate interview, the university secretary, who also doubles as secretary to the university council, Mr Yusuf Kiranda, said they agree that the pandemic has adversely affected many families.
Mr Kiranda said most private students had their tuition paid by their parents, whose livelihood, income and businesses have since been affected by Covid-19. He said the council’s decision was part of the response to challenges affecting their key stakeholders.
Mr Kiranda said the suspension will affect the university financially, but added that the university management will sit tomorrow to defer some activities and devise other means of raising money.
Makerere Guild president, Mr Ivan Ssempijja, welcomed the university decision to suspend the tuition policy.
“I wrote to the council and management and have been engaging them on how best we can halt the 15 per cent cumulative tuition increment in addition to waiver of functional fees. Finally, we have managed to halt 15 per cent and it is going to help parents afford tuition in these difficult times,” Mr Ssempijja said.