THE University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has chucked out more than 2 500 students at the institution for failure to pay full tuition fees leaving the students stranded, Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Despite economic hardships the country is facing, UZ which opened three weeks ago for the 2015 first semester now requires students to pay full tuition fee for them to be able to register and attend lectures.
In the past UZ offered payment plans for students who could not afford to pay full tuition fees at once. However, rules have since changed as at beginning of the current semester forcing many students to defer their studies.
In an interview this week, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) president Gilbert Mutubuki said: “It is not fair that the UZ no longer offers a payment plan for the less privileged students, as it is poor students are not even allowed at the premises without payment of full fees. It is only upon full payment of fees that one can access a school identity card which is one’s passport to enter the universities’ premises.”
He said the current situation has seen more than 2 500 students going back home, after failing to pay their tuition fee.
Zinasu said it is dismayed by the current situation at UZ and is demanding that government takes up its duty and responsibility of funding education.
“Most of the students are sons and daughters of poor peasants and civil servants who are facing economic challenges due to the failures of the current regime led by President Robert Mugabe. After all education is a basic right as according to our constitution, therefore, it is the duty of the government to fund education by all means,” said Mutubuki.
He added: “If the government is not able to fund education, we are encouraging them to respect and honour the people of Zimbabwe by resigning; we are encouraging students who have failed to pay their tuition fee to go and attend lectures as we will adamantly, resolutely and directly fight for the right to education for all.”
The 2015 National Budget presented by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa availed US$6 million for the Presidential Scholarship Programme and a paltry US$1 million for the cadetship scheme for local university students.
Last year Zinasu challenged government to provide local university students with scholarships and enter more students for the cadetship programme.
“The money that is used to support the students in South Africa is enough to pay the tuition fees for all the students in Zimbabwe,” he said. “Therefore, it is important for the powers that be to consider funding students in local universities.”
Tuition fees at South African Universities ranges from US$1 500 to US$7 000 per year depending with the programme and institution.
At UZ tuition fees for undergraduates ranges from US$1000 to US$1 600 per year depending on the programme.
The Presidential Scholarship Programme was founded in 1995 to give academically-gifted students from poor families a chance to study in South African universities. President Robert Mugabe is the patron of the fund.