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Uganda: Universities hike tuition fees

Makerere University

Parents of students at the university must prepare to dig deeper in their pockets as tuition and functional fees are set to be hiked in a number of private and public universities in the country.

At Makerere, rising costs has forced the oldest public university to halt the feeding of private students who hitherto paid just sh2,000 per day for breakfast, lunch and supper.

This will raise the feeding cost for the students since they have to dig deeper in their pockets to buy food in the nearby eateries on a daily basis or alternatively cook their own food outside halls of residence.

The increase in fees is rooted in the rising costs of running universities. In public universities, the university councils, the top governing bodies, are only allowed to set new tuition fees provided they get approval from the Government.

However, they are allowed to increase functional fees. In this case, Makerere and Kyambogo universities are already mooting moves to increase the functional fees, with the former doubling some of their fees.

The last time public universities increased tuition fees was in 2009, several years after the previous increment in 1991. When public universities increased their fees by that time, it was by 40%.

A number of private universities could not commit themselves on whether they would increase their tuition fees since their governing bodies had not yet finalised the resolutions, and they also consider discussing the topic as negative publicity.

But sources in most of the outstanding private universities revealed that the governing bodies were likely to hike tuition fees by about 10% to 20%.

Makerere’s case

Makerere University is already mooting a move to double its functional fees on accommodation and feeding. The university’s management presented a proposal to increase accommodation and feeding fees for students in the next semester, citing escalating operational costs.

Makerere’s management wants accommodation fees in halls of residence raised by 100% from sh440,000 to sh880,000 annually for Ugandan students. They also want feeding costs for Ugandan students in the halls of residence hiked by 100% from 240,000 to sh480,000 per semester.

The proposal may also see international students parting with sh1,920, 000 for accommodation annually, up from the current sh960, 000. They may also pay sh960, 000 for accommodation each semester, up from the current sh480, 000.

With the current feeding rates, Ritah Namisango, the University’s public relations officer, says it is estimated that the university provides break tea, lunch and supper to a student at a cost of sh2,000 every day.

However, the council has resolved that the proposal to increase accommodation and feeding fees be stayed until the 2014/2015 academic year; though it appreciated that the university has been spending about sh4,000 to feed a student daily.

This implies that the university was spending an extra sh2,000 for each student above what it is paid.

Much as Makerere has not raised accommodation fees, feeding and functional fees, the oldest public institution has taken tough measures to ensure that the 60% fees payment policy is implemented in the next academic year.

According to Namisango, a recent university council meeting resolved to ensure that all privately-sponsored students pay 60% of the tuition and all functional fees at the beginning of every semester.

“All privately-sponsored first year student will be required to pay tuition and all functional fees before the issuance of admission letters,” she added.

According to the new changes, all students are also required to have paid 100% of the tuition by the end of the sixth week of the semester.

Any student who would not have cleared tuition by that time should have paid all functional fees and 60% of tuition if they are to be allowed to do 60% of the course load.

“All privately sponsored students should have paid full functional fees and accommodation fees before staying in the hall of residence,” Namisango added.

The Kyambogo University public relations officer, Lawrence Madete, says the institution’s governing council had approved an increment in the functional fees payable by students per year.

However, the amount of money to be paid by the student as functional fees will vary, depending on the course one will be pursuing.

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