By Innocent Anguyo
GOVERNMENT has ordered all the six public universities in Uganda to charge uniform fees for Ugandans and foreigners from the other East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
The public universities include Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Muni, Busitema and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST).
The six universities admitted a total of 40,000 students, including those from the other East African states for the 2014/2015 academic year.
The Ugandan public universities currently charge higher for students from the other East African countries, treating them as international students.
Under the fees structure Makerere University, Uganda’s largest university, the tuition for Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery is sh1, 478, 400 per semester for Ugandans and sh2, 464,000 for students from other East African countries.
Addressing the press at Makerere University mid-week, Education Minister Jessica Alupo said she had issued a directive to the six universities, telling them to harmonise their fees structures for students who hail from the East African region.
Alupo said the decision to harmonise fees structures for all students hailing from the region was made in a recent Heads of State summit held in Kigali that brought together presidents of the East African countries.
“Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi were already charging same fees for all students from the region. Uganda has done the same in the spirit of comradeship. East Africans are the same people and there is no reason why they should pay different fees,” said Alupo.
The harmonized fees structure, Alupo said would take effect in the 2014/2015 academic year which starts on August 09 for some public universities such as Kyambogo and Gulu.
Alfred Masikye Namoah, the Academic Registrar of Makerere University which is the leading public destination for student from other East African countries said they were yet to receive the government directive. For now, Masikye said the non-uniform fees structure will stand.
Alupo said government was revising financing to public universities; a move she noted would help in closing the resource gap created by harmonization of fees structures because universities have been earning a lot by charging higher fees for students from other East African states.
Alupo spoke to the press on the sidelines of the ongoing leadership fellowship at Makerere University organized by the Uongozi Institute. ‘Uongozi’ means leadership in Kiswahili, and inspiring and strengthening leadership is the core purpose of the organisation.
With branches in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, the Uongozi Institute is dedicated to supporting African leaders to attain sustainable development for their nations and for Africa
The institution seeks to inspire leaders and promote the recognition of the important role of leadership in sustainable development. Lately, the institute has laid emphasis on nurturing youthful leaders.
This year, the fellowship has brought together 52 students from the leading universities in the region, to be trained on leadership. They are from Makerere, Kigali, Burundi, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam universities.
Alupo commended the Institute for identifying and grooming the future leaders of the region saying, youthful leaders require ideological orientation through fellowships, such as the one organized by Uongozi.
In a speech read by Makerere University Academic Registrar Alfred Masikye, the university’s vice chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentammu urged the institute to expand the admission into its programs beyond the leading universities so that many more may benefit.
President Yoweri Museveni is tentatively expected to close the fellowship on August 16, just like Kenya’s Raila Odinga and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete did in previous fellowships in their respective countries.