The University of Malawi (Unima) Council has deferred the opening of The Polytechnic to a later date.
The Unima constituent college was expected to open today.
The decision comes after Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) obtained a court injunction, restraining authorities from implementing new hiked tuition fees during the new academic year, which would have started today for first-year students and on October 10 2016 for continuing students.
In a statement released on Friday, Unima said it postponed the college’s opening to resolve the matter.
Reads the statement in part: “This is due to need for council and the Polytechnic Students Union to resolve
the tuition fees matter, which is currently in court.”
Last week, PSU obtained an injunction from the High Court in Blantyre to force authorities to maintain the old fees structure of K55 000 and K250 000 for government and self-sponsored students, respectively.
The students did not want to pay the hiked fees now at K350 000 per student, arguing that due to delays in The Polytechnic academic calendar, the college is set to open the 2015/2016 academic year and not the 20016/2017 academic year which the Unima fees hike is meant for.
“Let it be known that due to past events that led to repeated closure of the college, we are one year behind the calendar. Our friends have graduated with the old tuition fees, [as such] implementing the new fees will be against the interest of justice and fairness,” said PSU publicity secretary Precious Chilundu in an interview with The Nation on Thursday.
Tension ensued in July this year in the four Unima constituent colleges, namely College of Medicine (CoM), Chancellor College (Chanco), Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and The Polytechnic following students’ protests over the fee hike.
The new fees ranging from K400 000 to K600 000 were increased from K55 000/K275 000 per academic year.
In August, President Peter Mutharika reacted to the impasse with an order for a K50 000 reduction in the hiked fees.
Mutharika, who is chancellor of Unima and three other public universities, announced the decision when he met Unima Students Union (Umsu) leaders at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe. n