Written in 2005
Had it not been for the intervention of President Museveni, Makerere University would be charging freshmen of 2005/06 academic year an additional Ushs 215,000 each on top of of the tuition fees structure as at the close of the previous semester. The Makerere University Strategic Plan 2001/05 said the University needs to develop its capacity and performance in order to meet the changing demands and increasing challenges and competition.” It also noted the importance of the process of funding of the University’s income generation from fee paying students represents an increasing portion of the total operational and investment budget.
The Strategic Plan speaks of the varsity’s strength as being the ability to generate income internally to overcome its financial problems. However, among the dilemmas is that despite that internally generated funding, the University remains under funded. There has been steady decline in funding from the government.
The University has opportunities due to the rising demand for University education due to population growth hence creating a large market for Makerere programmes. The University’s 5 year Strategic Plan shows it had expressed the intention to increase student enrolment by 10% per year from 22,000 students in 1999/2000 to about 35,000 in 2004/05. The justification for this was partly that there was a demand which should be met, and partly that more students means more fees.
The NORAD Consultant Report on the costs to train a student reveals that the average cost of science based programmes at Makerere is Shs 5,757,000 per student per year while that of Humanities is Shs 2,665,000 (However, the statement in the Strategic Report doesn’t tell us that this is simply tuition, because then the figure would not amount to being the cost to train a student). By 2001, Government contribution per student was Ushs 2,900,000 excluding boarding cost while the tuition fees averaged Ushs 1,200,000 per year.
There are some questions here. The 2001 annual report stated that “With regard to private students, the fees per student per annum is almost 30% of the true cost in that the average cost in science based unit is Ushs 5,757,000 while the existing fees in the Faculty of Medicine and Agriculture is Shs 1,920,000. That the true cost in Humanities is Shs 2,655,000 yet the average fees in Humanities is Ushs 1,000,000. These figures exclude accommodation and feeding and cannot be trusted.
In its 5 year plan under “Present Funding of the University,” it is quoted that Ushs 38bn was available for operations because Government provided 23bn while 15bn came from private sources in the academic year 1999/2000. What is not mentioned is that private sources do not refer only to income from tuition alone, there are other University Units which generate non tuition income.
In the New Vision of April 26, 2004 the private admissions scheme 2004/05, offered a total of 18,708 vacancies. Each applicant was to pay admission fee of shs 8,000, and for the admitted students, over shs 149,664,000 was raised from this source (remember, not all applicants are taken). The computation given the vacancies available in terms of what the University got from the freshmen in all comes to about Ushs 20bn! One wonders whether the University really gives the true picture of its income from all the private students for the programmes conducted in 2004/05 academic year.
The increase of what is termed as “none tuition” fees is another game Makerere University has played. It’s not clear why the University was given a leeway to increase those other charges. What is the logic? Private students are already paying high fees in relation to the services they enjoy. Government should reverse its position on these charges. Following recent developments it also needs to come up with the proper audit of financial management in Makerere University. Secondly, the University is killing parents with the burden of wanting to own each and every building there. We are requesting Government to have Makerere University divest itself from the role of putting up new structures. There should be a policy which lets those with funds to lease land at the University and put up structures which the University should be able to rent. Government should also seriously address the funding of Makerere University.
Lastly, the parents wish to request Government to okay the use of Standing orders in effecting tuition fees payment at Makerere. This will help civil servants meet the tuition payment deadlines. There should be no problem if such parents can be allowed to open standing orders where dues to the University would be paid in 12 equal installments monthly throughout the year.