THE decision by the Government to stop public universities from increasing tuition fees in the new academic year, beginning in August is quite justified and timely.
True, the public universities, particularly Makerere University, are experiencing a serious financial crisis. All the five public universities â€“ Kyambogo, Gulu, Mbarara and the newly established Busitema University had proposed to increase fees for the new academic year. They argue that they are increasingly finding it difficult to operate within the existing budget.
To address the financial crisis, the universities are taking various measures. One of the measures proposed is to increase the tuition fees. Makerere has already taken measures to scrap free meals for all government-sponsored students. The university now plans to pay cash allowances to the students to buy their own meals. Makerere also increased accommodation fees for private students.
It is wrong for the universities to resort to tuition fees increase as the only solution to their crisis. Already the universities are charging prohibitively high fees and any increase would be unreasonable and would obviously cause student protests. These universities have the responsibility to ensure that university education is not only for the rich, but is also accessible to the ordinary Ugandan.
The crisis currently faced by the public universities is a result of mismanagement and, in some cases, outright corruption. It is, therefore, improper for the universities to increase the charges in order to sort out the crisis. The universities must, first and foremost, eliminate wastage and the massive financial haemorrhage. The universities are already generating huge revenues through the private studentsâ€™ scheme. They also have other untapped potential sources. For instance, Makerere has extensive prime assets in the city that have not been utilized for revenue generation. A lot of this money is embezzled or squandered. What the universities badly need now is to overhaul their financial accounting and control system to stop corruption.
Universitiesâ€™ financial crisis self-inflicted