NEWLY-established universities have cried foul over paltry budget allocations they received for 2017 financial year, arguing the meagre amounts are tantamount to declaring the higher institutions of learning closed.
By VENERANDA LANGA
The issue came out when vice-chancellors from different universities in the country appeared last week before the Peter Mataruse-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education. The meeting to discuss allocations to the sector was also attended by acting permanent secretary in the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry, John Dhewa
Dhewa had disclosed that Treasury set aside $45 000 for Gwanda State University, $45 000 for Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences, and $25 000 for Marondera University of Agricultural Science and Technology.
University of Zimbabwe Vice-chancellor, Levy Nyagura said the smaller universities would collapse if government failed to adequately fund them.
“They have student populations of less than 200 each, which means income from tuition fees is negligible and they will not be able to sustain new operations.
“I am not sure if it is the wish of government to shut down these small universities, or do we want the old culture of demonstrations to begin because the low allocations are a recipe for demonstrations?” Nyagura queried.
Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education chief executive, Emmanuel Ngara warned of political ramifications if the newly-formed universities were not adequately funded.
“There are political implications if these three universities are not funded and operational because government has an obligation to ensure each of the country’s provinces has a university,” he said.
Lupane State University vice-chancellor, Pardon Kuipa said while other older universities with several thousands of students’ enrolment might survive on fees, it would be difficult for newly-established institutions like Lupane to do so.
“My enrolment is only 2 500 students and with payments of $500 per student per semester, it is almost impossible to operate a university with a gross figure of
$1,2 million that we get per year,” he said.
“Accommodation facilities in Lupane can take in only 500 students and it means over
2 000 are still renting, and we spend about $50 000 per month for rentals and $600 000 per year,” he said.
Midlands State University vice-chancellor, Ngonidzashe Muzvidziwa said the government decision not to adequately fund universities could be tragic, as universities would not have qualified staff.