Gulu University management and students have disagreed over the payment of additional living out allowances.
Representatives of the students have since September this year been demanding payment of additional living out allowances for what they describe as an extended period of the second-semester academic calendar. The student leaders argue that the normal semester calendar ran between June and ended in September this year but an “extension” into the second semester went on beyond November.
The acting Dean of Students, Francis Opiyo, however in a November 30 circular seen by Uganda Radio Network-URN written to the students maintained that living out allowances for the second semester had been fully paid.
According to Opiyo, the allowances were paid for 14 weeks according to the semester calendar adding that the University has no financial obligation to be met for the same semester. He also pointed out that living out allowance is paid only to students for living on campus to cater for food, accommodation, and transport.
But Katongole Alumansi, a third-year medical student and representative of the government-sponsored students says the University has been adamant to pay for the extended semester yet their demand is justified.
He says the policy governing the students living out allowances clearly states that money shall always be paid on a daily basis for each student according to the academic calendar. For instance, each government-sponsored student is entitled to 1,000 Shillings daily transport, 5,000 for feeding, and 40,000 monthly for accommodation.
According to Katongole, when schools were shut down due to the covid-19 outbreak, the University embarked on online lectures from June until September 19 but the period was extended since the contents were not completed. He says the extended period since September has not been paid for by the University.
According to Katongole, Medical students are demanding 446,000 Shillings for 64 days from August to November while non-medical government-sponsored students are demanding shillings 335,000 for an extended period from September.
He notes that government students are currently struggling in the extended second semester to-foot bills including hostels for periods that they haven’t been utilizing and the functional fees.
One of the students at the faculty of medicine who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals says non-payment of the living out allowances has negatively impacted their lives at the University. He notes that whereas the University administration is requesting them to register, he is unable to register because he has no money.
The University Vice-Chancellor Prof Openjuru Ladaah couldn’t be reached for comment as his known mobile phone number was unavailable.
About 700 government-sponsored students at the institution received about shillings 680,000 each in July this year as living out allowances for 14 weeks for the second semester.
This was about a month after the government shut down learning institutions across the country to curb the spread of the second wave of covid-19.
On Thursday, armed anti-riot police officers were deployed at the University premises to quell down a peaceful protest by the aggrieved students over the University’s non-commitment to heed to their demands. Journalists were too denied access to the University where the students had intended to meet over the matter.