Govt justifies hefty varsity fee hikes

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Foreign Affairs acting minister Amon Murwira

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira has justified the widely criticised university fee hikes as necessary to promote and finance quality education in the country.

He issued a ministerial statement in the National Assembly on Tuesday on the fee hikes that have sparked protests, and resulted in the arrest of some learners.

MPs demanded a ministerial statement after university fees rose astronomically from $19 000 to $51 000 per semester.

“Maintaining 2021 tuition fees per semester would threaten the achievement of sustainable development goal (SDG) 4,” Murwira said.

“In fact, it would result in education and training institutions cutting down on essential budget lines such as internet bandwidth, e-library subscriptions, workshop practice for engineering, practical sessions for life sciences, outdoor field trips and supervision of students on attachment would be totally removed. This would be the death of the credibility of our education system.”

He added: “With regard to tertiary institutions, the fees structure that was agreed in 2020 has never changed, except for catering and practical fees that are determined by market forces. However, the student fees and other income are generally inadequate to meet all other costs because we always have to moderate them.

“This is because the income source and student fees are generally inadequate. To ensure institutions operate on a balanced budget, universities and colleges should receive more support or charge higher fees, but normally we ask for more support.”

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