Following series of violent strikes by students over what they called unfair fees policies, Makerere University administration has moved to put in place a new policy.
While speaking at a press conference from the senior common room of the main building at Makerere University on Friday, the deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Prof Barnabas Nawangwe said that this policy aims at benefiting the students and the university.
"At the request of Government, management has proposed a comprehensive fees policy to address the problem of persistent student unrest due to a policy students considered unfair, in particular the policy of payment of 60 per cent of fess by sixth week of the semester," Prof Nawangwe said.
He added that students should remember that their financial contribution to the university constitute a major part of its revenue, and that this time round, students' concerns in the proposed policy will be addressed.
Jothan Y Burobuto, the acting guild president, said that this 10-page policy has been forwarded to them as leaders to engage students in a debate tomorrow, to see whether it should be upheld or trashed.
"As students representatives, permitted and mandated by the committee set up by the Prime Minister's office, we call upon all student leaders, GRC elects of the 82nd Guild, students and any other well-well wishers for a consultative meeting this Saturday [June] 25th at 9am in the main hall.
This is aimed at gathering reasonable opinion and input of students into the policy," Burobuto said, adding that if the students' opinions are not considered, then the passing of the policy by the administration will be wastage of time.
WHAT THE POLICY SAYS
According to the draft by a committee that was set to review the previous policy that was dropped in April this year, all new students will have to pay 60 per cent of tuition fees before being issues admission letters.
The draft also states that every continuing student shall pay a commitment fee as may be fixed by the University Council, provided that at the time of approval, of this policy, the commitment fee shall be Shs 200, 000, before the student is provisionally registered. The provisional registration and the payment must be done within the first 2 weeks each semester, and failure to do so calls for a de-registration of that student.
This draft however considers students with financial constraints and it puts an option for them.
"A student who fails to provisionally register by the end of the second week of a semester for genuine reasons may apply to the Vice Chancellor for special consideration for late registration... Late Registration Fee shall be Shs 100,000, in addition to the commitment fee," reads part of the draft policy.
However, Prof Barnabas was quick at reminding students that fees should preferably always be paid at the beginning of each semester, but said that for those who couldn't manage that should choose from the 3 "Payment Windows" the one convenient with them, with in the first week of the semester, and comply with what it says.
The first window states that students shall pay all the approved functional and tuition fees the end of the sixth week of the semester, and upon completion of payment of the approved fees, the student shall be given a full registration for that semester.
For students opting for the second window states that they shall pay all the approved functional and tuition fees as well as Late Fees Payment charge equivalent to 5 Per cent of all fees due for that semester by the end of the 12th week of the semester. Upon completion of payment of the requisite fees, a student shall be given full registration for that semester.
The third window states that because there are students who work to pay their fees, the university has put in place a "monthly payment plan". Under this window, students must apply in writing to the Vice Chancellor, and provide documentation as evidence of their financial hardships.
Additionally, applications will be reviewed on individual basis and arranged on per-semester basis only. It's further stated that payment plans cannot be applied retrospectively and are not available but new students starting their academic year 2016/2017 on Aug 6.
This Monthly Payment Plan is available to all undergraduates and graduates. Students to opt for it have been advised to sign up as soon as possible, if the draft is approved as it is, at the beginning of the semester, so as to be in position to know within how many months they can pay up fees.
Prof Barnabas, however, asked students, parents, stakeholders, and the public at large to take part in their online debate from the University's website, give in their views about the drafted policy, so as enable the premier institution get a permanent policy by the beginning of the new semester, early in August.