Fees hikes expose students; Parly Committee told

By ZBC Reporter
Students from Universities and colleges across the country have bemoaned the high fees structures saying a lot of female students have been exposed to sexual exploitation while others are deferring studies as a result.
This was revealed by student representatives who were giving oral evidence before Parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology Development, Innovation and Tertiary Education which is chaired by Hwange Central MP Daniel Molokele (MDC Alliance). The committee sought to understand the impact of recent fees hike in tertiary institutions.
This comes at a time when the government, through Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology Development Minister Prof Amon Murwira pegged the fees at between $3 500 and $5 000 as a means of striking a balance between the desire for quality education and affordability.
The students made a plea for the Government to reduce the fees student loans that were introduced by the Government were not sustainable because they would become due for repayment after a semester or a year yet the concerned student would not have completed his or her learning.
Midlands State University Student Representative Council acting president, Leon Mutakura said most students were struggling to raise the fees.
“At MSU, the fees have been pegged at $5 700, which is higher than what the Minister had gazetted. It is a threat and an assault on higher education. It is almost five times more than most parents’ salary. More than 400 students have deferred at MSU owing to the high fees,” said Mutakura.
Zimbabwe National Students Union president, Takudzwa Ngaidzore said Prof Murwira did not consult with relevant students but only convened a meeting after he had announced the new fee structure.
“The fee hike is not timely. Female students are being taken advantage of by ‘blessers’. Our survey showed that at least 50 percent of students had not registered,” said Ngaidzore.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Dr Takavafira Zhou said reduction in number of enrolled students owing to fees had a ripple effect on universities as they will fail to fund important sectors like research, innovation and development.
“University lecturers will be no better than high school lecturers. There is also likely to be lowering of standards of learning and teaching at universities,” said Dr Zhou.
He said the new fees would create a situation where children from richer families would access tertiary education while the poor would languish at home destined to become employees of children from richer families.