University of Malawi (Unima) Students Union (Umsu) and Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) members yesterday walked out of a meeting Unima Council called to iron out differences surrounding fees hike ahead of the college opening early February 2017.
Umsu president Tiwonge Sikwese and his PSU counterpart Frank Msiska told journalists in an interview after getting out of the meeting that the council invited them to persuade students to “contravene a court order, which compels The Polytechnic not to effect the raise on continuing students”.
The meeting took place at Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) Lilongwe Campus.
However, the two unions were angered by the council’s decision to invite to the meeting six more students who are not part of the unions’ leadership.
Said Sikwese: “We had some students from The Polytechnic whom the university council management said were invited. Yet, this is contrary to the invitation letter, which did not indicate that other students from The Polytechnic would take part in the meeting.
“It seems these students were deliberately invited to bring confusion at the meeting.”
Sikwese also questioned the criteria the council management used to select representatives of the parents at the meeting.
He said the invited parents drove in posh vehicles, meaning they are from well-to-do families; hence, could not give a true picture of the neediness of the students opposed to the fee hike.
Unima spokesperson Peter Mitunda could not be reached for comment.
A resolution by Unima council to adjust upwards fees for both generic and mature entry students has riled a cross-section of the society, which feels the raise is ill-timed as Malawi is sailing through tough economic times.
The council pegged the new fees structures for generic students from K55 000 to K400 000, K275 000 to K400 000, and K275 000 to K900 000 for mature students.
This prompted students from the public universities mainly Chancellor College (Chanco), Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and The Polytechnic to protest the hike. n