Colleges turn away record numbers

FOR the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, the country’s institutions of higher learning have started turning away students who have failed to pay tuition and boarding fees which were recently increased by more than 100%.

The expulsions follow government’s

failure to pay out student grants, due at the beginning of the semester. In the past students received state grants to settle their fees.

On Monday, a student leader at the Harare Polytechnic, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the institution started turning away students who had failed to meet last Friday’s deadline to pay up.

A second-year journalism student said only three students were left in their class of 68 on Monday.
 
Other students said they had been expelled from the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) this week.

Reacting to the expulsions, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) on Tuesday said it had approached lawyers to have a court order barring all institutions of higher learning from increasing fees.

The reprieve would be similar to the one granted to University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students by the High Court last week, barring the fees hike.

On Wednesday, Harare lawyer Precious Chakasikwa confirmed in an interview that Zinasu had approached her on the matter.

“Instructions have been received from Zinasu. We are working on the matter,” she said.

A student at Harare Polytechnic said when the college opened in January, students were asked to pay tuition fees of $2,7 million per year, but on February 21 it was raised to $14,4 million per term.

Accommodation fees were also hiked from $4,9 million per year to $12, and $6 million per term.

Harare Polytechnic principal, Steven Rasa, on Wednesday claimed that all was well at the institution as no students were complaining about the hikes.

“In fact, some students had asked for a fee hike so that the money is used to improve standards,” he said.
“No one was expelled. Some were just asked to go and inform their guardians to pay.”

Rasa refused to disclose how many of his students had not paid the new fees or how the college would deal with defaulters.

He was adamant everything at the institution was normal although information filtering from the campus indicates college authorities had shut down the dining hall in an effort to compel students to comply
“Even me, if school fees for my children are increased, I just pay,” he said. — Staff Writer.