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Makerere proposes new fees policy

Following a series of violent strikes by the students over what they called unfair fees policies, Makerere University administration has proposed a new policy. CHRISTOPHER TUSIIME has been looking at the policy and reports.

Addressing the media at Makerere University on Friday, the deputy vice chancellor for Finance and Administration, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, explained that the policy would benefit the students and the university.

“The university has established a three-window system for students to pay tuition fees to the university,” he said.

The first window requires students to pay all the approved functional and tuition fees by the end of the sixth week of the semester. Upon completion of payment of the approved fees, the student would be fully registered for that semester.

Makerere University student leaders like Jonathan Burobuto (in black suit) have led protests against the most recent fees policy. They are now pledging to work with the administration

Students opting for the second window system would be required to pay all the approved functional and tuition fees as well as late fee payment charge (set at five per cent of the entire tuition), 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.

Makerere’s deputy VC for Finance & Administration Barnabas Nawangwe

The third window requires students, who work to pay their fees, to register ‘monthly payment plan’ with the university. Under this window, students must apply in writing to the vice chancellor, and provide documentation as evidence of their financial status.

The draft also requires every continuing student to pay a commitment fee of Shs 200, 000, as set by the University Council before the student is provisionally registered. This fee is required within the first two weeks of each semester.

According to the draft policy, all new students will have to pay 60 per cent of their tuition fees before they are registered.

Prof Nawangwe asked students to appreciate that their financial contribution to the university constituted a major part of its revenue. He pledged to respond to students’ concerns in the relocated policy will be addressed.

Jonathan Burobuto, who is the acting guild president, responded that the 10-page-policy had been forwarded to student leaders to engage in a debate on the sustainability of the three-window system.

“As students’ representatives, we call upon all student leaders, students and any other well-wishers for a consultative meeting [on this policy] which is aimed at gathering reasonable opinion and input from students,” Burobuto said. He added that if the students’ opinions were ignored, then the passing of the policy by the administration would be waste of time.

The university is moving away from a one-suit-fits-all perspective to fee payment. For instance, applications will now be reviewed on an individual basis and arranged on per-semester basis only. In the past, all students had to abide to pay 60 per cent of the tuition by the sixth week and their entire fees by the 12th week of the semester, to be able to sit for final semester exams. 

Under the new policy, a monthly payment plan is also available to undergraduates and postgraduates. However, students joining such a policy would have to sign up for it at the beginning of the semester, to help with planning.

Nawangwe added that students who default on fee payment, or who are in debt to the university, will not be allowed to write their exams or proceed further with their studies. The policy has been placed on the university’s website www.mak.ac.ug for the benefit of all students, parents, stakeholders.

HIGH-LEVEL COMMITTEE

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda chaired the committee that reviewed the policy. Other members are Ruhinda North MP Thomas Tayebwa, vice chancellor Prof John Ddumba-Ssentamu, the dean of students, John Cyriaco Kabagambe, Prof Nawangwe, University Secretary Charles Barugahare, Academic Registrar Alfred Namoah Masikye and Legal Officer Gody Muhumuza.

The government was represented by the commissioner for planning in the Education ministry, Elizabeth Gabona. Bazil Mwotta and Roy Ssemboga, the two contenders for guild president, as well, Jonathan Burobuto represented the students.

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