THE EVER RISING VARSITY FEES

It is sometimes merely an act of faith that a good number of students practice when they pack their bags from home to campus to acquire or indeed add on their academics with just a few resources for their immediate needs such as groceries, food stuffs among others while others effortlessly wait on the government to resolve their tuition fee without really confirming if it has done so provided their accounts do not appear to bother them. They also confidently wait for other allowances to follow.

This, however, is not the case with other students who were not privileged

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Student eagerly collecting money from a digital service provider in order to pay fees before examinations begin. Image by Kalichi Pictures

to be funded by the government, have to deal eye to eye with the institution and risk not being registered and consequently not sitting for their examinations.

Ideally, at the country’s highest learning institution-The University of Zambia (UNZA), tuition fees were designed to be reducing as a student went up the ladder but, ironically,the opposite is the new trend.

In as much as it can be noted that students are to pay the same amount of tuition fees they paid in their first year of study till the last, they still succumb to the other increments from the ‘other fees’ which keep increasing every academic year. This has not been the case before as students could be exempted from certain charges from second year to beyond. The other annually compulsive fees have been increased by over 100% such as the internet which was at K55.00 in the 2016/2017 academic year, has increased to K 194.00 in the 2017/2018 academic year. Sports and Recreation have increased from K65.00 to K150.00; examination fees from K100.00 per to K50.00 per course in the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 academic years respectively.

The other fee which has been increased by over 100 % is the accommodation fee which was K1,200.00 and now at K3,900.00 translating into a K100 per month to a K325 per month, indicating a 225% raise.

Notably, the tuition fees have been increasing by 10% annually with the first years of the 2017/2018 academic year paying K23, 462.00, the Second years; K21,329, whilst those in third year pay K19,390 and the fourth years K17,627.00 for all art based programmes.

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Media and Communications student using alternative internet due to increase in University internet fee. Image by Kalichi Pictures

Meanwhile, their science based counterparts pay K28, 980.00, K26, 345.00, K23,950.00, K21,774.00 and K19,795.00 per year from the first to fifth year students in the 2017/2018 academic year respectively.

Additionally, those from the the School of Medicine are charged K28,980.00 for the second years, K26,345.00 third years and K23,950.00 for the fourth years per year.

Other fees are; K21,774.00, K19, 795.00 and K17,995 per year for fifth, sixth and seventh year students, in that order.

Nonetheless, students are allowed to pay 37.5 percent of the first installment, 25 of the second and the third and 12.5 percent of the last, of the tuition fees.

A fourth year student,from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Michael Musakalu, who is on self-sponsorship, expresses worry over the UNZA fees ranging from tuition fees, which he feels are the most painful to other user fees which he terms ‘exorbitant’. He notes that students come from different families with different backgrounds.

“What you might consider cheap or fair, might be considered nearly impossible for me to acquire,you get?” he says,”others might be a phone call away to millions whilst others have to feel the sweat completely to gather a few coins.”

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A parent sending money to University student using the cheapest mode of cash transfer, Swift Cash, so that student can pay fees. Image by Kalichi Pictures

Musakalu also urges the institution to be more considerate when with regards to writing exams, to allow students to sit for them [the exams] and not have their results withheld.

He adds that it becomes quite disturbing to hear management announce that students who are still owing the institution shall not sit for their examinations, after an entire year of preparation.

However, UNZA Vice Chancellor Prof. Luke Mumba said he feels disheartened to see students being chased away from writing exams due to non payment of tuition fees.

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Students exiting and entering University library in preparation for oncoming exams. Image by Kalichi Pictures

“I know it is ironic that its me saying this when I am the one who always says,’if you have not paid, you won’t write exams’,” he said.

Prof. Mumba added that he only does that because he has an institution to run and for him to do so, money is needed.

He also expressed sadness that thousands of students are refrained from sitting for examinations every year due to non-payment of tuition fees.

Prof. Mumba was speaking during the University Christian Community(UCC) interdenominational service, where he was invited as guest of honour.

Despite all these annual increments, one question still remains unanswered, “Why do fees keep increasing every year…yet nothing seems to be changing?”

This question can only be answered by assumptions and speculations, but even these may never be enough to ascertain the true picture and provide the answer.

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Article idealised and written by: Midia Zulu

Edited by: Chishimba Bwalya and James Sakala

Data Collection: Chanda Chanda and Chinyemba Kamweho

Outline and Photography: Chipema Chinyama

Proof Reading: Peter Mwanza

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Professor Luke Mumba – Vice Chancellor University of Zambia

Michael Musakalu – 4th year humanities student

*All statistics were collected from the University Annual Reports*

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