Relief for tertiary students

State-owned institutions of higher learning could soon reduce tuition fees for students on industrial attachment as Government works towards coming up with a new fees structure.

This follows dialogue between Government, tertiary institutions and students’ representatives after the latter petitioned the higher education ministry to scrap fees for students on industrial attach-      ment.

Students argue that they do not use campus facilities when they are away on industrial attachment.

Submitting the petition to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Professor Jonathan Moyo in April, Zimbabwe National Students’ Union (Zinasu) secretary-general Makomborero Haruzivishe said the fee structure was unjustified.

Haruzivishe argued that students would be off campus and will not be using university or college materials, services and facilities.

Tertiary institutions, however, rejected the total scrapping of the fees, saying students on attachment still receive high-cost services such as assessments.

Universities and colleges also argued that in cases where students secure industrial attachment outside the country, the fees they are currently paying is not enough to cover assessment costs.

As such, Government intervened and directed all tertiary institutions to provide details of the costs they incur when lecturers go out to assess students on work-related learning.

This, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister Dr Godfrey Gandawa said, would enable Government to come up with a figure agreeable to all the parties.

While consultations are still ongoing, Dr Gandawa tentatively confirmed that a position could be agreed soon given the progress made so far.

“We have listened to both sides (students and tertiary institutions), and consultations with stakeholders are ongoing,” he said.

“Universities and colleges incur costs when they send lecturers to assess students on attachment and we have to consider that.

“So what we have done now is that we have asked the institutions to provide us with the details of the costs they incur so that we can come up with a fee that works well for everyone.”

Dr Gandawa said it should be considered that organising travelling and subsistence allowances for lecturers who go to assess students required a decent budget.

University and vocational college fees range between $300 and $1 000 per semester, depending on the type of programme.

Although the students spend up to a year away on attachment, they are still required to pay the fee in full.

Consequently, students are now pressuring Government to reduce the fees.

“We have been calling for that for a long time and we hope the matter will be finalised soon,” said Zimbabwe Congress of Students’ Union (Zicosu) national spokesperson Munashe Mupoperi.”

“It is no longer a case of if the fees for students on attachment should be revised, it’s now a question of by how much.

“It is not fair for students on attachment to pay full fees because they are not on campus, they do not access the facilities and services.

“Government should intervene and come up with an acceptable fees structure.”

Mupoperi said students on attachment should only pay US$200 per semester to cover assessment costs.

Student organisations also claim that the existing fees are too high.

“The tuition fee on its own is still too high and many do not afford it, we would like to see them go down as we move towards free education,” said Mupoperi.

“It is a right which should not be denied to anyone on the basis that they do not have money.”

Students are also calling for the Government to come up with a regulation that will make companies pay students on attachment.

Currently, some companies do not pay students on attachment or give them subsistence allowances. Students say this has made life difficult for them. They say considering their productive work, it is only fair that they be paid a stipend.

A statement from Zinasu read in part: “The Zimbabwe National Students’ Union is demanding that institutions and companies that employ students be obliged to pay basic livelihood salaries and also contribute to their tuition fees as a way of both payment and appreciation for the work students would be doing to contribute to the increased production for them.”

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