By Clare Muhindo and Taddeo Bwambale
KAMPALA - Ugandan universities have expressed mixed views on a proposal to charge uniform fees for students from the East African region.
Under the proposed scheme, students from all the East African countries and South Sudan would pay the same tuition fees at any university in Uganda and in all member states.
The Inter-University Council for East Africa is finalizing a standard tuition fees structure which member states will be required to endorse before it comes into effect.
President Yoweri Museveni early this month directed the ministry of education to harmonize tuition fees for students from the region, in line with the move towards regional integration.
At a meeting with vice chancellors of universities in Uganda at the weekend, state minister for higher education, John C. Muyingo, asked the institutions to implement the proposal.
“For students from the East African Community, fees charges should be different from other countries like the US, since we are now under one body,” he said.
A group photo of the State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo and university vice chancellors during the consultative seminar. PHOTO/Tony Rujuta
While a Ugandan law student at Makerere University pays sh1.2m, international students pay sh1.6m. Ugandans also pay higher fees when studying at some universities abroad.
A New Vision survey established that some universities are charging uniform tuition fees, while others said the proposal requires more time for study.
The vice chancellor for Uganda Technology and Management University (UTAMU), Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba said that his university was already charging uniform fees.
Baryamureeba, who is a former vice chancellor of Makerere University, proposed that universities should be allowed to control their fees structures.
Universities have expressed mixed views on the issue of harmonizing fees for EA fees
Prof John Kasenene, the vice chancellor of Mountains of the Moon University, said the proposal was not practical.
“It can’t happen because universities are not at the same level,” he stated.
Prof Kweku Bentil, the vice provost of Agha Khan University, said the proposal was unfair to private universities since public universities are subsidized.
On the same issue, Prof Ezra Mishambi Twesigomwe from Kabale University said the university would implement the proposal if government insists on it, but warned that the plan was untenable.
Minister Muyingo advised every university to set aside a budget for research and invest in skills development courses in order to address the issue of youth unemployment.
He appealed to the universities to integrate ICTs in all their courses to ensure that graduates are computer-literate and meet the demands of a fast-changing global economy.
“Whenever I visit some university offices, I wonder what kind of lecturers they have. Some of them have refused to learn computer programmes. They are giving our children poison,” he said.
The meeting, convened by the National Council for Higher Education at Hotel Africana, was meant to explore ways to improve collaboration and the quality of higher education.
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Universities divided on uniform fees for EA students