Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
University of Zimbabwe Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura has defended the institution’s decision to introduce a second intake per year, at a time it has also embarked on flushing out lecturers without at least a doctorate.
Prof Nyagura made the remarks when he appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology in Harare yesterday.
He said the country’s oldest university had adequate infrastructure to cater for more students compared to other local universities. Prof Nyagura said they also constructed 10 more lecture rooms to accommodate at least 1 500 students at a time.
“We did all these preparations in anticipation of increasing the student population not by a big margin, but small margin. Because 1 400 could never be viewed as a large margin of increase of first years,” he said.
“The number will never go beyond 15 000 at UZ. With the students we took this last month, we have only gone to 14 000 students.
“That compared to other universities with 22 000 students with no infrastructure, computer numbers, professors and PhD holders and a state-of-the-art-library facility like UZ, we couldn’t be faltered. I don’t even see how the public could have an outcry that UZ has ballooned its student numbers at 14 000. That is a modest number for the kind of infrastructure that we have.”
Prof Nyagura said the only issue that remained was that of accommodation.
He said in the past, they accommodated about 4 300 students, but they had increased the number to about 6 400.
He said in other local universities, students lived like squatters as eight students shared a room.
Prof Nyagura said to maintain the quality of the university, they resolved that only lecturers with at least PhD are employed except in the fields of law, engineering and clinicians.
He said the institution provided funding for lecturers who wanted to pursue their education, as such they have put 2017 as the deadline for them to attain at least a PhD.
Prof Nyagura said it was gratifying that the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Professor Jonathan Moyo shared the same vision with them on ensuring that lecturers must at least be PhD holders.
Prof Nyagura said there were other challenges that they faced, including delays in the payment of salaries. The August 2015 salary was still outstanding.
“The implications are quite serious. For example, it means we fail to remit monies for medical aid, we also fail to remit pension contributions of members and we cannot talk about honouring Zimra payments because if we have not been paid, we don’t pay because you can’t pay from your own resources if you have not been paid.
“It also means where stop orders like maintenance charges and so forth are concerned, we cannot remit those,” he said.
Prof Nyagura said Government owed the university about $11,4 million since 2010 for students who were on cadetship.