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Student Petitions Makerere University Council To Drop 15% Tuition Increment Policy

Makerere University main gate

Hillary Odwee Oremo, a third-year bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication student at Makerere University has petitioned the University Council to scrap the 15 percent annual tuition increment for privately sponsored students.

Odwee’s petition comes a few months before the expiry of the two-year suspension on the enforcement of the 15% tuition increment, which was initiated in August 2021 after a series of dialogue meetings between the student leaders led by former Guild President Ivan Ssempijja and the University management.

The students requested the suspension of the tuition increment citing the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many of their parents unemployed and vulnerable. The University council agreed to halt the 15% increment for two years.

Now, in his March 17th, 2023 petition to the university council chairperson, Lorna Magara, Oremo argues that the policy is not serving its goals and objectives and therefore unjustifiable.

Oremo told our reporter in an interview that his biggest prayer is to see the University council scrap the policy for good because its continued existence is the biggest barricade to many learners.

In his petition, he notes that the revenue collected from the policy does not reflect a change or an improvement in the services delivered to students, especially in the area of hygiene, laboratory facilities, internet connectivity around campus, health services, and halls of residence.

For many years, several people have raised concerns about the state of the halls of residence at the University which are characterized by faded walls, leaking ceilings, broken windows, and dilapidated bathrooms. In Lumumba Hall alone, Block C has been closed since 2006 when it was cordoned off due to its poor state but the renovation has been pending up to date.

Oremo says that while he acknowledges that there is work in progress to improve the halls of residence, this should have taken shape immediately after the policy was introduced. He said that for long students particularly from the College of Humanities and Sciences- CHUSS have had issues with limited lecture rooms but it is not something the University management has attempted to solve.

The University management has not yet succeeded on Oremo’s petition because Professor Kakumba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs had not yet responded to our questions by the time of filing this story.

However, speaking to a gathering during the third edition of the Makerere Guild dialogue, a week back, Kakumba revealed that, the University had agreed to support the earlier resolution to halt the 15% percent increment for a period he did not disclose after recognizing that the conditions that prompted the suspension in 2021 are still in place.

Kelvin Luyombya, the Guild Academic Minister told our reporter that once the University agrees to halt the policy, it will be a huge relief for many students who were hardly hit by its implementation. He also asked the university to completely scrap the policy, saying that it is not only unrealistic but blind to the challenges that students face.

Background  

In 2018, student leaders led by former Guild President Papa Were recommended the 15% Cumulative increment to replace the University Council’s proposed 41 percent and 91 percent, which caused demonstrations.

The university council later approved the 15 percent cumulative tuition increment three weeks into the 2018/2019 academic year, with the move affecting new students who joined the institution in August 2018. This meant that the university will increase tuition by 15 percent every academic year for the next five years.

 

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