THE BIG STORY: Students demonstrate over increment in fees

  • Some students could get expelled

Dr Benon Musinguzi addresses students in the boardroom
Students could not agree with Dr Benon Musinguzi (standing). They demanded to meet the vice chancellor instead (Photo by Arthur Matsiko)

BY ARTHUR MATSIKO 

The students at Uganda Christian University (UCU) have held a demonstration, for the first time in 12 years, over what they cite as ‘unfair adjustments’ to the fees.

The angry students gathered at Agape Square, demanding answers from the university administration over why the students’ activity fee had been increased from Shs63,000 to Shs70,000.

After failing to capture the attention of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Dr Benon Musinguzi, the group moved to the students’ boardroom, hoping to find someone else to resolve the matter.

It was here that the students met Dr Musinguzi and informed him that the University Council had made the resolution without consulting the students’ guild.

The University Council, at its meeting of November 26, 2015 resolved that ‘other fees’ would be increased from the previous academic year’s Shs667,000 to Shs893,000 for the academic year 2016/17. 

Other fees include development fees (Shs430,000), medical fees (Shs70,000), student activity fees (Shs70,000), examination fees (Shs80,000) computer fees (Shs100,000), book/ library fees (Shs90,000) and registration fees (Shs53,000).

On failing to agree with Dr Musinguzi on how the resolution was made, the students demanded to meet the University Vice-Chancellor, Rev Dr John Senyonyi.

The vice chancellor was forced to abandon an ongoing university meeting to address the students, who kept heckling him, over the matter.

Some students, who declined to be named for fear of expulsion, argued that they were unsatisfied with what was going on.

“We need an explanation about student activity fees. We used to pay Shs50,000, it was increased to Shs63,000 without consultation, and now the circular which we have been given out indicates that it has been increased to Shs70,000, all this without involving our guild leaders. We shall not accept this,” one added.

A letter from the UCU communications and marketing department to parents/guardians says: “This increase will not affect continuing students in the January or May 2016 semesters, except for students whose programmes begin in May 2016.” 

However, continuing students have already been issued with a fees structure, which indicates that they would pay according to the said increment.

When asked for an explanation, Dr Senyonyi said the students had been paying a student activity fee of Shs63,000 and he knew nothing about the said Shs50,000.

He, however, maintained that the increment in other fees shall affect only those students whose first year of admission being in the May 2016 semester; implying that those students who are continuing shall not pay the increment. He added that students who pay their dues promptly would be exempted from registration fees.

As to whether “other fees” should be paid only in one year of study, Senyonyi said it should be paid every semester because “it is consumed as it is paid”.

The vice chancellor also refuted claims that the students’ guild was not represented at council meetings that led up to the increment in fees.

“For the last one year and a half, they (students’ guild representatives) don’t attend (council meetings), or when they attend, they zip up, yet they are supposed to speak for the students,” Senyonyi said.

He added that he would not tolerate such behaviour among students demonstrating, without prior notification, vowing to take stern action.

“Once I find out that you are guilty of organizing and participating in an illegal demonstration, I will ask you to go elsewhere,” he said, adding that he would also notify the Uganda Vice Chancellors’ Forum so that all universities get to know about the issue. 

Once a notification is sent, it means that those expelled would wait for three years before they are to be admitted to any other university in Uganda.

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One thought on “THE BIG STORY: Students demonstrate over increment in fees

  1. Unfortunate. Hope the university will have this resolved amicably. UCU has gained reputation and that alone sells the University and her graduates. It is worth that both the administration and students protect this reputation for the university’s and prospective graduates’ good. Long live UCU.

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