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Polytechnic fights students in court

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The High Court in Blantyre is expecting to give its ruling on whether the stay order obtained by The Polytechnic Students Union should remain or be set aside to pave way for inter-partes hearing.

This follows an application filed by lawyer, Ted Roka, who is representing The Polytechnic management in a matter in which students are protesting against fees hike, to have the matter reheard so that the college management can argue its side of the story.

On October 19, 2016, the High Court issued an injunction stopping The Polytechnic from effecting the hiked fees.

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Roka argued yesterday that the college management has enough grounds to have the matter reheard because it has the liberty to hike the fees from time to time according to the powers given to it.

“According to the argument of the plaintiff, it is misleading to the court because what it means is that all students from first year should not pay the revised fees. Polytechnic was supposed to open on October 3 and that is 2016/2017 academic year, why then should they insist on paying 2015/2016 unrevised fees?

“We are saying the council needs the revised fees because government cut off its allocation in the budget hence there is a deficit,” Roka said.

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But lawyer representing the students, Wanangwa Hara, asked the court to help clarify as to what academic year is Polytechnic in?

“The College closed on July 22, 2016 marking the end of 2014/2015 academic year. The press releases that the University Council circulated shows the College was to open 2015/2016 academic year on October 3, meaning we are still in 2015/2016 fees and that is why we feel it is not rational for the students to pay 2016/2017 revised fees when our calendar shows we are in 2015/2016 academic year,” Hara said.

The Polytechnic failed to open following the injunction obtained by the students union in September this year.

Judge Healey Potani is expected to give his ruling on December 12 this year.

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