Participants to the stakeholders’ meeting by University of Malawi (Unima) Council have described the meeting as a missed opportunity and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The council announced that it had organised the meeting to give Malawians of various political, religious, academic and social backgrounds to appreciate developments surrounding the increase in students’ financial contribution to the university.
However, less than half of the over 100 delegates made it to the meeting, with members of the Unima Council, principals and other senior staff of Unima colleges outnumbering the invited guests.
There was no students’ union representation at the meeting.
Some of the participants criticised the council for organising the meeting to justify the fees hike and not as a platform for constructive engagement between stakeholders and the council.
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national secretary Martin Chiphwanya said it was disheartening to learn that the council spent thousands of taxpayers’ money on travel and accommodation allowances just to justify the fees hike.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe described the meeting as a waste of time and a financial burden on the taxpayer.
“They called this meeting just to read a statement. This contradicts the information we got through the invitation letters,” he said in an interview soon after the meeting.
But Unima Council chairperson Professor Jack Wirima said the fees hike seeks to improve the quality of education in public universities.
He said degrees from public universities “have become so weak and diluted that they are not being recognised anymore in Europe, America and even some universities in South Africa”.