Malawi Government has advised the University of Malawi (Unima) to reduce State-sponsored students to 900 to enable the institution manage its subvention following a salary increment proposal.
The development comes in the wake of a 21 percent salary increment offer to Unima staff days after a directive made by the Department of Statutory Corporations that a 15 percent salary increment it earlier offered last week should not affect Unimaâ€™s activities.
However, latest communication from the Ministry of Education to Unima offers the 21 percent salary increment, on condition that intake of government-sponsored students be reduced to 900 from about 2000-plus students.
Ministry of Education PS John Bisika, in a letter to Unima vice-chancellor dated August 17 2012, says: â€œ[Unima must] admit the other 900 students as non-residential students.â€
Bisika also says studentsâ€™ allowances will be increased by K7 000 to K40 000 in line with inflation.
Governmentâ€™s offer of the 21 percent is an apparent effort to stop an impending industrial action and another strike currently underway.
Chancellor College (Chanco) lecturers last week declared dispute with Unima Council and gave Ministry of Labour a 21-day notice to resolve the matter or else they would take an industrial action while the Polytechnic lecturers are already on strike.
Both Chanco and the Polytechnic are demanding a 113 percent salary increment.
Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (Pascow) secretary general Gift Khangamwa in an interview on Monday confirmed receiving the 21 percent salary increment communication from the Unima Council.
But he said Pascow is meeting on Tuesday to discuss the offer in detail, arguing their demand was based on inflation and two devaluations of the kwacha by 10 percent last year and 49 percent this year.
Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) president Sunduzwayo Madise said his union had not received any communication yet from the Unima Council on the proposed salary increment.
Madise, however, admitted seeing communication between government and the Unima Council regarding the 21 percent salary increment offer, but said Council was yet to extend that communication to them.
Said Madise: â€œWe will give our response after that communication is made to us. As it is, we cannot say much.â€
Ccasu is on record as having said Unima management, at the last weekâ€™s consultative meeting, made no offer to the lecturers.
Comptroller of Statutory Corporations last week said salaries had been increased by 15 percent to all employees in the statutory corporations, including Unima.
But Chanco and the Polytechnic rejected the offer.
Mzuzu University (Mzuni) registrar Yonam Ngwira said they got the 21 percent increment communication from government, and being a percentage the lecturers at the Mzuni were demanding, he hoped everything is now water under the bridge.