Written in 2004
In the New Vision of April 26, 2004, Makerere University run a full page advert on its private students’ scheme admissions for the academic year 2004/05. The advert indicates the number of available places per course and the tuition fees. It also states that an application fee of shs 8,000 is to be paid per applicant, and an additional shs 2,000 paid in as bank charges for every deposit.
Simple calculation gives a figure of shs 20,299,980,000 as the expected income from tuition fees when all the places are filled.
The University will also earn over shs 149m from application fees. And this only from the 18,708 vacancies available but the number of applicants will certainly be bigger implying that income from application forms will go beyond shs 150m.
The University’s annual report for 2001 from the Planning and Development Department says: “In 2000/01 Makerere University received a total of Ushs 23bn from Government and collected Ushs 13.8bn from private students.
“The uncertainty surrounding the Private Students’ ability to take up places offered to them by the University has compounded the management and control of admissions. The University has to issue letters in excess of its capacity in anticipation that some students admitted will fail to register on financial grounds.”
The report adds: “The University has instituted the registration and fees payment policy requiring students to pay 50% of the fees by the end of week 5 after which they will be registered. They are required to complete payment by the end of week 10. The problem of controlling admissions numbers remains. The intake figure is made more erratic by students who drop out on financial grounds after the first or any subsequent semesters.”
From the above quotation, it is clear that the computed shs 20bn may not be realized as some students may be financially constrained. The evolution of an educational loan scheme would be the remedy here but its prospects are very unclear.
The issue of tuition fees deadlines is what makes things difficult for most benefactors. Some are salary earners who fail to pay in time due to cash flow problems. In the circumstances, many parents part with assets to meet the tuition fees deadlines, or deplete their savings and this adds to students’ academic uncertainty.
It is possible for the University to realize shs 20bn expected if it can take on an additional role: extending services on credit. Offering credit facilities calls for a sound financial base. I am sure Makerere can afford as of now.
The credit department, if put in place, may be able to enter into contract with the benefactors so that the latter pay in ‘manageable’ installments. Payment may be made to the University say on a monthly basis using standing order arrangements organized with the benefactors’ bankers. In this way, we would find it easy to sponsor our children at the University.