Economic Hardships Drive Thousands Out Of University

By Sij Ncube

 Harare, November 01, 2016 – THERE has been an alarming drop-out of students at the country’s state and private universities as learners battle to pay fees with more than 7 000 students said to have deferred their studies this semester alone.

 

In the past two academic years, a total of 40 000 students have quit before finishing their studies, according to a latest survey by the Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu).

 

Last week, the University of Zimbabwe Student Representative Council secretary general, Chrispen Mahachi, wrote to the university Vice Chancellor Levi Nyagura, about the plight of students and pleading for the reduction of registration fees from the present 50 % to 30%.

 

“Following the realisation that a sizeable number of students are failing to register owing to financial challenges, we write this letter to kindly request you to reduce the initial deposit for registration to 30%. You will appreciate hat since 2014, the major cause of deferment of studies has been failure to raise required fees,” reads part of the letter to Nyagura.

 

“While we appreciate that the university needs more than 60% in order to run smoothly, we plead with you to consider the tough economic environment and it is our prayer that you will 30% and extend the registration to the 4th of November, 2016.”

 

Further information obtained by RadioVOP on Monday shows that Nyagura has agreed to the students request and has gone further to direct that non-registered students that have been attending lecturers and have complied with all requirements of all courses be allowed to sit for examinations starting November 16, 2016.

 

However, the results will remain unpublished until they have paid outstanding fees.

 Makomborero Haruzivishe, Zinasu secretary general,  told RadioVOP the development at UZ comes against the backdrop of at least 7000 students countrywide either deferring studies or dropping out of school altogether this semester due to failure to pay registration fees.

 

“Registration fees have become a nightmare for most students in the country as unemployment is at 90%, parents and guardians are finding it difficult to pay exorbitant registration fees required by both government and private institutions of higher and tertiary education,” said the Zinasu secretary general.

Private institutions like Africa University, Solusi University and Zimbabwe School of Mines are charging the most expensive as on average a student at these institutions has to pay an average of $1,200 every
semester, Haruzvishe revealed.

The Women Africa University (Wau) is charging about $900 per semester and $450 in registration fees.

Recently, the institution chased away students battling to pay at least half of the fees, resulting in a marked decline in class attendance.

 

With education guaranteed in Section 75 of the Constitution, Haruzvishe said the government and other private universities should not treat education as a privilege, warning that continued denial of access to education would trigger “FeesMustFall” demonstrations similar to those that have engulfed neighbouring  South Africa.