University of Malawi (Unima) officials have maintained their stand on tuition fee hike and refused to open The Polytechnic, one of its constituent colleges, until matters surrounding its closure have been resolved.
Unima Council has since appealed a High Court ruling which ordered students at the college to pay the old tuition fees as they were still in the 2015/2016 academic year and not in the 2016/2017 academic year, which the University of Malawi (Unima) fees hike is meant for.
According to a court document seen by The Nation, hearing of the case is set for Thursday, November 23.
The Polytechnic was scheduled to open on October 3 for the new academic year.
Briefing journalists in Blantyre yesterday, Unima vice-chancellor Professor John Kalenga Saka said the college requires K6 billion to run its operations.
He said if the new fees will not be implemented, the college will have a deficit of K2 billion, thereby compromising the quality of education it offers.
Said Saka: “We are concerned about quality because we are aware that the National Education Sector Plan to which we are supposed to respond, demands that all higher education institutions in Malawi should produce research, consultancy and graduates of quality. We cannot compromise on this.”
He also hinted that the Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) did not communicate to the council on the injunction they obtained on September 28, 2016, and the ruling on October 19 was made in “secrecy” without hearing the council’s side.
“We have made an appeal so that our side of the story is heard, we will be able to open based on assurance that quality will not be compromised,” Saka said.
The vice-chancellor also expressed disappointment with the conduct by PSU executive members, saying it is leading to the lowering of standards of education in the country and lowering Unima’s rank due to frequent closures.
Currently, Unima is on position 149 out of 240 universities in Africa.
The Polytechnic principal Grant Kululanga wondered why PSU rushed to the High Court when they agreed during a meeting with President Peter Mutharika together with other executive union members from other Unima colleges to pay the fees.
He accused the PSU executive of rushing to the court without consulting their fellow students who were at that time enjoying their holiday.
Making his presentation, Unima finance director Henry Chiwaya said there has been a decline in the traditional resource base for public universities.
He said government pays 88 percent and 75 percent towards full economic fees for both generic and mature entry students respectively while the remaining percentage is realised from student’s tuition fees.
According to Unima authorities, it takes over K3.5 billion to train a polytechnic student for four years.
On September 28, 2016, the union obtained an injunction restraining college authorities from maintaining the hiked fee of K350 000 per student per annum from K275 000, arguing that due to delay in The Polytechnic academic calendar, the college was still in the 2016/17 academic year.