University of Malawi (Unima) has hiked fees for mature entry programmes in its four constituent colleges effective 2016/2017 academic year, The Nation has established.
In a letter dated May 12 2016 addressed to principals, registrars and finance officers for the Polytechnic, Chancellor College (Chanco), Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and College of Medicine (CoM), the university said the decision was made during a recent university council extraordinary meeting. The letter was signed by the university registrar Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga.
“Council of Unima resolved to adjust upwards fees that are normally paid by mature entry students. It was the view of the council that while it was understandable that the generic students paid highly subsidised fees for their education, it did not make sense that the same should be true with mature entry students,” reads in part the letter.
The letter puts the new tuition fees for the Polytechnic at K950 000 (about $1 500) whereas those upgrading at Chancellor College will be paying K900 000 (about $1 350) per year. Those in health and upgrading at KCN and CoM will be coughing K1million (about $1 451) and K1.4 million (about $2,200) per year respectively. This is an increase from around K275 000 for several courses except health. Those upgrading in health courses have been paying between K500 000 and K950 000.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Unima spokesperson Peter Mitunda justified the hike saying most of the mature entry students are working or doing business and the council had to consider some factors to ensure they arrive at a fair cost.
But educationists Steve Sharra said this is the characteristics of the dilemmas the country is facing.
“The figures are closer to the full market cost of attending Unima per year as revealed by Malunga in 2014. There may be Malawians who can afford the full fees, but from what we have recently learned that up to 50 percent of students in public universities are dropping out due to financial problems, this fee hike is clearly a very tough choice for Unima,” said Sharra.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said the adjustments are e poorly timed.
“I agree the adjustments were overdue, but they are way above the threshold… This will affect many students and we should expect more dropouts than could have been,” said Kondowe.
In an interview in September 2014, Malunga revealed that for many years students both generic and mature entry have been paying very little compared to what is needed to train a Unima student. He said the minimum costs for most programmes is K2 million (about $2 950) while engineering and medicine is K3 million (about $4 500) and K5 million (about $7 300) per year respectively. n