President Emmerson Mnangagwa has justified the recent fee increase by local universities saying it was necessary for the establishment of specialised facilities in learning institutions.
His remarks come after the University of Zimbabwe has reversed its decision to raise fees for the August – December 2022 Semester following protests by students who said they could not afford the new fees.
Writing in his weekly column in The Sunday Mail, the President, who is the Chancellor of all State universities, said the financing formula for higher education has to change. He said:
For a very long time, fees for university education have been low; in some cases, lower than fees charged by many secondary schools in the country.
It certainly does not make sense that our higher education, which is at the apex of the entire education system, and which is internationally benchmarked, meaning it requires specialised facilities and tuition, turns out to be cheaper than foundational primary and secondary education.
Government, thus, supported university authorities in their decision to take the necessary corrective action.
Fees in Regional Universities:
i). State universities in South Africa charge a minimum of US$1 400 for undergraduate programmes per semester and US$1 700 for postgraduate studies.
ii). The University of Botswana charges a minimum of US$1 400 in undergraduate fees per semester and a minimum of US$1 800 for postgraduate studies.
iii). The University of Zambia charges US$800 for undergraduate studies per semester and US$1 000 for postgraduate.
iv). The University of Zimbabwe is charging a minimum of US$509 for undergraduate fees per semester.
Critics said Zimbabweans cannot afford the fees considering that the economy is not performing well.
They say most of the students in universities are funded by civil servants whose salaries hover around US$300.
President Mnangagwa said a significant part of the national budget will fund the setting up and expansion of universities and the establishment of new ones.
He also expressed concern over the low uptake for the loan facility which Government guarantees, and which Government administers through banks. The president said only about 10 000 students have benefitted so far, a remarkably small number in relation to the number of students.
Mnangagwa encouraged the private sector to sponsor as many students as they could accommodate, especially now that the current education curriculum is closely aligned to the industry through Education 5.0.