MP criticises govt over new universities

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Eddie Cross

Bulawayo South MP Eddie Cross (MDC-T) has criticised government’s move to establish four new State universities without adequately funding already existing institutions of higher learning, warning this could compromise the quality of degree programmes on offer.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

Cross raised the issue while debating the Presidential speech in Parliament on Thursday.

During the official opening of the Third Session of the Eighth Parliament, President Robert Mugabe announced plans to set up the Zimbabwe National Defence University and the Pan-African Minerals University of Science and Technology.

Bills to establish the Manicaland and the Gwanda State universities have already been gazetted.

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“We have four more universities on the table on top of 12, but we cannot afford multiplicity of institutions of higher learning. We need to be in a position to fund them because it costs $5 000 per year to put a single student in a university,” he said. “Coming up with new universities is not only weakening the established universities, we are also downgrading the standards of already existing universities.”

Cross said when he enrolled at the University of Zimbabwe, it was a very competitive institution of international repute, but now standards had drastically fallen.

“If we are to maintain the standards, we need to recognise our limitations and concentrate our resources on the few existing institutions. The National University of Science and Technology and the University of Zimbabwe are good universities, but we do not want to get to a situation whereby our degrees are no longer recognised. We need first-world standards, not third-world standards,” he said.

Cross said South African universities marketed their products well, resulting in Fort Hare University enrolling a lot of Zimbabwean students, and Rhodes University having a third of its students being Zimbabweans.

“I was speaking to someone from Rhodes, and he said Zimbabwean students were the best in terms of payment of fees, adding they were also the best students with good grades. We need higher learning institutions that compete with Rhodes. Instead of 2 000 Zimbabwean students going to Rhodes, they should enrol at our institutions with good standards.”