Students from College of Medicine, constituent college of University of Malawi (Unima), plan to boycott classes when the school opens next month in a bid to force Unima council to rescind its decision to raise fees.
College of Medicine Students Union (Comsu) has issued a letter urging all students not to report for school or pay tuition fees when the college opens until misunderstandings on fees hike are resolved.
Authorities at the college have announced the beginning of 2016/17 academic calendar on August 8 for the foundation students and August 15 for the continuing students.
According to the Comsu letter dated July 27, 2016 and signed by Comsu president Francis Makiya and Publications Director Vitumbiko Phiri, reporting for school will mean that they will be the first Unima students to pay the new fees and they believe doing so would interfere with all negotiations aimed at convincing the Unima council to reverse its decision.
College of Medicine (CoM) has been the only Unima constituent college that has not publicly protested the fees hike which now ranges from K400 000 to K 600 000 after being increased from K55 000/275 000 per academic year for generic students and from K350 000 to K900 000 and K1.4 million respectively for mature students.
Makiya said Comsu had a meeting with class representatives where it was discussed and agreed that it is necessary for them to join hands in resolving the issue of school fees.
“Higher education is a key to personal as well as national development. Each one of us has a role to play in efforts being done to make sure that Unima fees is at a reasonable amount so that Malawians who are intelligent and deserving can afford tertiary education,” said the Comsu president.
“We should be aware that if CoM opens and some students pay the hiked fees, then that is the end of the battle and it will mean we have given in to the demands of the university council and this will be a big betrayal to our needy brothers and sisters who their future is being shuttered due to poor policies in this hard hit economic time,” he added.
Makiya further said in the 2015/2016 academic year while the students were paying K55 000 and 275 000 respectively, there was about 33 students at CoM who were on the verge of withdrawing. The students were bailed out by the president Peter Mutharika after he directedthe Treasury to release fresh funds to rescue needy students in the country’s public colleges.
On Wednesday Mzuzu University students in solidarity with their fellow students from Unima issued a statement asking President Peter Mutharika, the Unima Chancellor to intervene in the Unima fees hike wrangle arguing that his silence will worsen the already volatile situation.