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Unima students take fees hike protests to streets

University of Malawi Students Union (Umsu) leadership is today expected to present a petition to the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Emmanuel Fabiano, in the students’ desperate attempt to have the recent fees hike decision rescinded.

Unima Council announced that mature entry students who will be admitted to Chancellor College (Chanco) will be required to pay K900, 000, College of Medicine K1.4 million, Kamuzu College of Nursing K1 million and The Polytechnic K950, 000 per academic year.

Generic students who were selected to start their studies at The Polytechnic and Chanco this year have also received admission letters that show a jump in fees from the current K275, 000 to K380, 000 or above.

Umsu President, Tionge Sikwese, said the petition is part of the ongoing “We Say No to Unima Fee Hike: Education for All’ campaign.

The students are to present the petition to the minister through Lilongwe City Council Chief Executive Officer.

According to Sikwese, Umsu is bargaining for a zero percent increase in fees for generic students and 30 percent increase for mature entry students.

“On the current K275,000 fee level there are a lot of challenges already as many students are withdrawing from the University due to lack of tuition fees and it is not appropriate to add more problems on same students. And it is not only tuition fee which we are supposed to pay. We are also paying a lot for accommodation and food in the townships that we are operating from,” Sikwese said.

He said the ministry of education is responsible for any university fees approval and it is in a better place to make favourable decisions for the students hence the decision to petition the minister responsible.

“If this fee hike is implemented, we know that deserving but poor students will be at a very big disadvantage as they will not be able to raise such amounts of money. Many parents and guardians cannot afford the hiked percentage and this will definitely leave students from poor families out of tertiary education,” he said.

Fabiano already defended mature entry fees hike.

“Currently the minimum co s t for some of the programmes is about K2.8 million per student per annum and other programmes are costing as much as K5 million per student per annum and what the students are currently paying in the University of Malawi, which is K275,000 is way below even 10 percent of the cost of their tuition,” Fabiano said.

He said by increasing fees for mature entry students, Unima is trying to ensure that the students are “contributing something that is significantly beyond the current 10 percent”.

On the generic fees, Fabiano said the university council has independent powers to decide how much fees the students in the colleges can pay.

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