One of the institutions, the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo called in the police after affected students protested. Students who failed to sit for the exams cannot proceed to the next level.
“We now foresee a situation where one would take six years to complete a four-year programme,” said a Nust student who failed to write examinations.
“Any examination one misses is deferred to the next semester and that prolongs one’s stay.”
Four Nust students accused of inciting colleagues to protest spent Tuesday night locked up at Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Police have taken over the administration of the campus and are vetting students entering the examination hall to ensure that they produce evidence of payment.
Students there went on the rampage on Tuesday after the institution’s Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Lindela Ndlovu, told them they could “go hang” if they had not paid up, according to students who talked to the Zimbabwe Independent.
“The VC was rude to students when he addressed us at Delta Lecture Theatre by saying we could go hang adding that he does not react to cult psychology. He was booed and had to be escorted by riot police,” said an affected student.
Tuition fees are pegged at between US$400 and US$700 per semester at State universities.
Authorities at the University of Zimbabwe and Midlands State University denied affected students access to services such as the library, the computer centre and lecturers.
Most students attending State universities come from poor backgrounds, and have to rely on government support to complete their education.
Government yesterday said the affected students had only themselves to blame because they had failed to join a cadetship scheme that helps students who cannot afford fees.
“We had problems with the students from colleges and universities,” said Lutho Addington Tapela, Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education.
“We provided the cadetship for tuition but many students didn’t apply because they didn’t want to be bonded (after completing their studies),” “There was nothing that the ministry could do because education is not for free. It should be paid for. We can’t pay when the students don’t want to apply. So if students don’t apply we assume they have the money to pay,” he said.
Students who talked to the Independent however said they were caught unprepared and could not raise the required fees within hours.
Zinasu said its acting secretary-general Terrence Maoneke was one of those who failed to write examinations, according to a statement from the student body.
Some Nust students’ payment statements seen by the Independent showed them owing the institution between US$10 to US$1 000.
Nqobile Bhebhe/Ashley Marimo