Makerere University students striking over the 15% tuition increment are high on drugs, the Minister of State for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo has reiterated though without giving evidence.
“The situation at the University has been worsened by the now rampant abuse of drugs and other substances by sections of students at the University. It is almost inconceivable that students would consider rioting at night, including taking riots to neighbouring suburbs like Kikoni, Nankulabye, Wandegeya,” Muyingo briefed Parliament.
He further revealed that some people who have been arrested on the university campus are not students of the university, but strangers that had been imported into the university to cause chaos.
Muyingo also questioned the timing of the unrest because the university experiences cyclic student unrest around October in the sense that some students use it to depict themselves as “strong defenders of student interests and good mobilisers” which would help their political ambitions as they position themselves to contest for different leadership positions in the students’ guild.
“Students also use this platform to attract funding from external actors for upcoming guild election campaigns. Students avoided the examinations time, but also, they did not strike during the first weeks of the Semester, yet the fees/ policy and structure were known to them before,” said Muyingo.
He said that at the moment, there is continuous information gathering on students’ involvement in drug and substance abuse, which has aided arrests by the Police and that the University Management is strengthening sensitisation and counseling students on the dangers of drug and substance abuse.
The Minister defended the tuition increment describing the 15% tuition increment for the next five years as modest and asserting that students who think the tuition is high have an option of not joining the University.
Muyingo said that the modest adjustment in tuition fees was necessitated because of the ever-increasing cost of delivering university education, which requires academic instruction materials, utilities, modern laboratory equipment, modern delivery platforms, adequate ICT infrastructure, and maintenance among others.
“These are very costly and cannot be fully covered by current levels of government subsidies. This notwithstanding, the policy took into consideration the current and projected economic circumstances in the country as well as the fact that Makerere University is a public institution,” he said.