Police had to be called in this morning to cordon off Makerere University’s main building after students attempted to enter with force.
The students, led by the guild president Ivan Bwowe, arrived at the main hall at 10am to deliver a petition in which they challenge the 10% tuition fees increment suggested by the University management. On arrival at the main building, the students, who were wielding sticks and placards, were stopped from entering the building by the University security.
The security only permitted two student representatives to follow Bwowe to the council room where they were slated to meet the Vice Chancellor Professor John Ddumba Sentamu, an idea the students turned down.
When the students became rowdy, Police from Wandegeya Police station and Makerere Police post commanded by Jackson Mucunguzi cordoned off the building and chased away the defiant students.
In their petition, the students challenged the University management to account for all the funds that are channeled to Makerere through tuition fees and also present valid reasons for increasing their tuition. The petition also notes that most of the students currently studying at the University are ‘sons and daughters of peasants’ who cannot afford the hiked tuition fees the university is suggesting.
The stand-off still ensues at the main building.
Makerere suggested and approved a 10% tuition increase for all their courses starting with the 2014/2015 intake. A 10% increment would mean students at the School of Law that have been paying 1.2 million shillings per semester would pay an extra 120,000 shillings. The School of Medicine where tuition has been in the range of 1.4 to 1.6 million shillings per semester would have a 140,000 and 160,000 Uganda shillings extra fee.
The fees increment has been justified by the University management as a means of raising the internal revenue of the university to cater for the burgeoning expenses like lecturers’ salaries and research fees.
Makerere University relies on three sources of funding; student’s tuition, government contribution and donor funds to run its 122 billion shillings annual budget. Student’s contribution accounts for over 70% of the budget.
Ivan Bwowe, the university guild president told journalists that they were concerned that the university is not looking at alternative sources of funding and only relying on contributions from students’ tuition. He says the students are not prepared to let the 10% tuition increment prevail.
The university chancellor Professor Mondo Kagonyera on Friday decried the culture of strikes in Makerere. He said he would not negotiate with students if they continue to use violence to hold the university at ransom.
Despite an earlier agreement with the Vice Chancellor that food will be left in the hands of a private contractor, the students still raised queries over how the process would be handled in their petition.