The Ministry of Education is yet to approve the new fees structure proposed by Makerere University. Early this year President Museveni gave Makerere green light to increase fees for private students.
The universityâ€™s proposal was to increase fees by sh400,000 and private students residing in the universityâ€™s halls to pay an additional sh150,000 on top of the sh340,000 already being paid. The structure was approved by the universityâ€™s financial committee.
Granted, there is need to increase the fees as prices of supplies have all gone up but there is also urgent need to look at the other side of the coin. Makerere is a public university, which means it is Government-aided. But today, Government-sponsored students at Makerere and other public universities are almost an exclusive club of well-to-do families. They passed very well because they went to very good schools since they could afford it.
The policy of favouring science students aggravated the matter. There are schools which have no science laboratories in the countryside and study sciences like arts and yet are expected to do the same examinations at the end of their courses.
The unfair policy pursues poor students to university level where they are outcompeted for Government sponsorship!
The number of students who graduate is well known but Makerere is silent on those who drop out of the race because they cannot foot the bills. Lack of accountability and organisational discipline are at the core of the universityâ€™s woes. That, for example, might explain the embarrassing stand-off between the vice-chancellor, Prof Livingstone Luboobi and his deputy, Prof David Bakibinga, over a sh39b project sponsored by SIDA.
Millions of shillings went down the drain in 2007 when a perimeter wall collapsed but to date nobody has been answerable. The burden on the university could be mitigated if Government students paid for their accommodation and feeding and the Government took care of tuition. This would give private students some breathing space.
Private students are at a disadvantage