As many as 4,000 outgoing students of Makerere University Business School (MUBS) could miss their graduation next month if a fees dispute between the business school and its parent institution, Makerere University, is not resolved amicably.
According to the Makerere University administration, MUBS has failed or refused to remit to them functional fees amounting to Shs 4.6 billion, and unless they do, the affiliate school’s students will not graduate.
Apparently, every Ugandan or East African student pays Shs 420,000 while others pay Shs 1,027,500 every year, and this is the sum that MUBS has not remitted to Makerere University for three years.
But a MUBS spokesman said the institution owes Makerere University nothing, citing, instead, a dispute over a new “affiliated fee” imposed by Makerere that he described as “illegal”.
As the two institutions look set to collide, the students’ interest is our main concern. If Makerere University and MUBS both stand their ground and there is no graduation for the 4,000 students next month, it will be akin to the proverbial grass having to suffer because two elephants are fighting.
The students need not become collateral damage for they have done nothing wrong. Let the two institutions talk to each other and reach an amicable settlement.
However, as the saying goes, a good crisis must not go to waste. This dispute hasn’t emerged from the blue; it’s a continuation of the longstanding quarrel between these two institutions that the government has failed to resolve.
Even if this particular dispute is resolved, many more are to be expected in future, until the status of MUBS vis a vis Makerere University has been addressed once and for all.
If the decision is to turn MUBS into an independent university, go ahead and expedite it. If it is to be categorised as “other degree-awarding institution” such as Uganda Management Institute (UMI), make that clear and implement it.
If it is to maintain the status quo, address the areas that are causing friction and reset the affiliation. By all means, take a decision and implement it instead of looking on as two sister education institutions tear each other apart!