Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
State universities must set their full fees, including tuition and accommodation at $5 000 and below per semester, for both full-time conventional students and those on bloc release, the Government has said.
The universities were also banned from diverting any fees to pay lecturers extra money because salaries are paid by the Government.
Polytechnics and teachers’ colleges have been directed to charge fees below $1 300 a semester for certificate and diploma programmes, while higher national diplomas and degrees will attract slightly higher fees.
Tuition fees will be a maximum of $1 200 a semester.
Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira has said Government is still to approve any increases in fees, although he acknowledged yesterday that higher fees were required but the hikes would be set and approved through proper processes.
The directive will hit those State universities that have jumped the gun and have been raising tuition fees more than 10-fold without Government approval.
It also reverses the practice whereby
students in parallel and block release programmes, who are generally in employment and seeking to upgrade qualifications, have been charged far higher fees.
Universities that had been trying to set new fees without approval had been telling full-time students to pay as much as $9 600 a semester while parallel and block release students were being charged between $15 000 and $24 000 to pay lecturers extra to teach these classes.
“Every State university is governed by Government and there are no fee increments that were approved for any State universities as we speak,” Minister Murwira said yesterday.
“Yes, the fees will be adjusted. Our adjustments will be based on processes we follow and people will be informed. We have reports that some tertiary institutions such as Mutare Polytechnic, Great Zimbabwe University and Midlands State University have increased their fees without Government approval.
“This year we have agreed on a fee structure budget which has been approved by the Ministry of Finance. Our tuition was $150 a semester and we have increased it to between $1 090 and $1 200, especially at teacher’s colleges. It is cheaper than high school. There are amenities which are then charged. Our fees are not what people were imagining,” he said
Tertiary institutions, the minister said, should be charging fees within the new limits as they will remain viable.
“The fees increases should be to ensure institutions remain operational and according to our calculations this should not exceed $5 000 at state universities, while privately-owned institutions will be regulated by the market,” Prof Murwira said.
On block release students, Minister Murwira said their fees structure should be equivalent to that of other students.
“Universities should not be a cash cow for lecturers. We have heard reports of lecturers being paid allowances from students’ fees. We will not tolerate such a scenario in the education system. Lecturers are never funded from student fees. Student fees are for the operational costs of colleges and universities. Lecturers are paid by central Government.”
Yesterday, lecturers threatened to dump block release classes if they are not paid $300 an hour.
Association of University Teachers president Dr Gwatirera Javangwe said lecturers deserved to be “handsomely” rewarded for teaching non-conventional classes.
“Government has to rethink on the exact model for block classes. It creates great flexibility to adult learners, who will be unfortunately disadvantaged. They spend most of their time at work places, while at the same time they want to enhance their education,” said Dr Javangwe.
“Lecturers are doing a national service by teaching adult learners, hence it’s extra work. They are not keen to teach for free and will dump block classes.”
GZU director of information Mr Anderson Chipatiso said his university had increased tuition fees for block release students from $1 300 to between $9 600 and $15 000, depending on the degree level.
He argued that fees for block release and cohort programmes were not governed by the Government, hence the university had power to review them at any time without seeking approval.
The fees increase, he added, was meant to facilitate the payment of allowances to lecturers and provide for essential services so learners can study.
MSU has told some of its returning students of a proposed new fees structure for the semester beginning next month.
Fees for undergraduate degrees are ranging from $9 000 to $12 500 a semester, while those entering masters degree programmes have been advised that they might pay between $12 750 and $16 500 a semester. Doctoral students at the institution might have to fork out $51 000 a year.
Harare Polytechnic principal Engineer Tafadzwa Mudondo said he was waiting for his parent ministry to set his fees and could not tell students what they would be paying until the ministry finished its calculations.
“Our fees structure is regulated by the Government. We have students who are at certificate, diploma and higher national diploma levels, they have different fees structures. We are waiting for the ministry to give us direction,’’ said Eng Mudondo.