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‘Private Students Shouldering Tuition Burden For Gov’t Sponsored Students’

Makerere students at Freedom Square

A section of lawmakers have questioned the relevance of government scholarships in public universities, after discovering that Government has only been remitting tuition fees for the first year students, abdicating this role to private students.

This followed a call made by Cuthbert Abigaba, Vice Chairperson Parliament’s Education and Sports Committee while presenting the sector’s report on the 2023/2024 National Budget Framework Paper report before the Budget Committee.

Abigaba informed lawmakers on the Budget Committee that an interface with public universities highlighted that the funds sent to public universities for government sponsored students are inadequate since the funds are always sent for first year students in total disregard for continuing students and this leaves universities to source for funds from other budget items so as to avert possible strikes.

He said, “Government only releases money for people starting first year, but later forget about them and of course, this is usually the source of strikes in public universities. We recommend that the Ministry of Finance allocates enough funds commensurate with the number of government sponsored students to avoid incidences where the University has to use its operation funds to give students allowances and end up applying for supplementary budget in each Financial Year.”

He cited the case of Kabale University where government sponsored students have increased from 100 that they begun with, to now 250 and hence a shortfall of Shs6.5Bn, yet the money sent to the University only caters for 100 students.

Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South) wondered if the Education Committee took an effort to aggregate the cost of educating these children through the years so that as to quantify how much private students are carrying the burden and have government take back its load.

“We have been enlightened that Government only sponsors first year students and then abdicates in the other years. The implication I get is that the private sponsored students are the ones who bear the burden of government sponsored students throughout the year,” said Lulume.

Akol Anthony (Kilak North) asked for the review of government scholarships, arguing that they are mostly benefitting children of the rich, who have money, to actually pay for their primary education in good primary schools, and go in good secondary schools and these end up getting government sponsorship, while condemning kids of the rich in UPE and USE.

“To me I feel, this money we give to people who already have should be reallocated to somewhere else. The same applies to loan system which gives particular courses that you have to get to qualify for the loan, among these include engineering and medicine. These courses, children of the poor can’t afford. There is inequality in the country, so something needs to be done to ensure children of the local poor people can benefit from this kind of money,” said Akol.

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