Fees burden looms as cheapest varsity course to cost a million
By Patience Ahimbisibwe
Posted Friday, March 2 2012 at 00:00
Extra burden. The cheapest university course will now go for Shs650,000 in lieu of other functional fees like medical, internship, and worse, accommodation fees.
Students gaining admission to both public and private universities under the private admission scheme will have to fork out more than a million shillings on tuition and other requirements regardless of the course they choose to pursue, a survey by Daily Monitor has indicated.
The cheapest courses at Makerere University, for example, Bachelor of Arts in Education or Bachelor of Arts in Arts, charge between Shs650,000 and 750,000 for tuition minus other fees charged on registration, examination, internship, guild and medical, which when factored in, would raise the figure to more than a million shillings per semester.
This burden stretches further in light of the fact that students also have to do a lot of photocopying of notes and find accommodation, on top of other requirements.
Figures parents fear
Figures made available to the public by the various universities indicate that a Bachelor of Business Administration at Makerere University will cost learners Shs1,150,000 per semester without examination costs, medical fees and accommodation. The same course will go for Shs980,000 at Mbarara University (MUST) while Uganda Christian University is charging Shs1,575,000. Gulu University is considerably cheaper, asking of its students Shs650,000.
In addition to these, parents will have to cater for accommodation mainly in hostels in the neighbourhood of the campuses where charges vary depending on facilities and location but hardly go below Shs200,000 for the cheapest and go well over Shs500,000 per semester depending on whether they are shared or not. A few top class hostels charge much higher. Meals are paid for separately.
Ms Jenniffer Komakech, a mother of five, yesterday said it will not be possible for her daughter who scored 15 points in last year’s Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education to join university after she spent the little money she gets from rent to pay for her three other children already in universities of Kyambogo, Makerere and UCU.
“It’s just hard and I don’t know what to do. Yet I wanted to educate my children until they complete university where I wasn’t able to go,” Ms Komakech said.
For public universities, the figures quoted this far remain far below what the universities say is ideal to educate and maintain a learner on the campuses. They have been making a case to increase fees though government has blocked the move.
The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) last year also carried out a survey to establish a unit cost per course in five public universities of Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Mbarara and MUBS, but the council recognises the difficulties in implementing the finding, especially that most Ugandans earn less.
For instance, while MUST and Makerere each charge Shs1,344,000 for Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery per semester, according to NCHE annual studies of financial and human resources last year, the same course should go for Shs10,565,591 for the two semesters in a year or Shs5.2m per semester.
Prof B.K. Kasozi of NCHE said the real cost of educating a higher education student is far higher than the per capita income of Ugandans.
“In Uganda, class determines access to higher education in public universities as well as to scholarships. Children of wealthy social groups attend the best nursery, primary and secondary institutions which have facilities needed for making the good grades required for tertiary admissions,” Prof Kasozi told a meeting at Makerere University Graduate School.
“University education is consumed by wealthy families due to structural inequalities in the way education services are delivered. Efforts to establish a unit cost for higher education have been contested in the last five years,” he added.