The University of Zambia (UNZA) is currently owed ZMW 58 million in unpaid fees. The Tertiary institution which is Zambia’s largest University has about 24,000 students studying in over 300 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across 13 Schools/faculties and the Institute of Distance Education.
Clarifying media reports suggesting that over 800 students were being barred from writing their exams on account of failure to settle fees due. Management of UNZA has described that statement as being an “inaccurate”.
UNZA Manager FOR Public Relations, DAMASEKE CHIBALE, said that the University currently has three sources of income, namely (1) the government grant (28%), (2) tuition fees (69%), and (3) other sources (3%). He said that the Government of Zambia has been consistent in disbursing grants to the University to cover its obligations such as paying salaries as per the 2017 budget.
CHIBALE said that Generating revenue through tuition fees has been a challenging undertaking for the University despite the flexible arrangements accorded to our students. “It should be noted that the growing practice of non-payment of tuition fees has affected the smooth operations of the University” said CHIBALE.
CHIBALE went on to say that “this is non payment of tuition fees has affected onward payments of utilities such electricity, water, sewerage services, medical services as well as general maintenance of equipment and infrastructure”.
Further, the university has a legal obligation to pay salaries for its academic and non-academic staff for them to efficiently and effectively execute their duties for the benefit of the students and society in general.
Students have been accorded the opportunity to pay for their tuition fees in four (4) installments as follows:
1) First instalment – 37.5% – start of first term for registration
2) Second instalment – 25% – beginning of second term
3) Third instalment – 25% – beginning of third term
4) Fourth instalment – 12.5% – before writing end-of-academic-year examinations
With these friendly tuition fee payment provisions, there is no excuse for students and/or their sponsors to default in honouring their obligations, that is, paying tuition fees, particularly if they value university education. According to CHIBALE, management has urged all affected students, without exception, to take advantage of the available provisions for paying tuition fees to avoid any inconveniences.
However, a look at the revenue sources reveals that the institution has rather turned itself into more of a teaching university. One area that the University management needs to look at is the selling of their research and consultancy services by leveraging their highly qualified academic staff. This is one area we’re management needs to demand more from its academic and research staff to grow its revenue.
More on Education to follow from ZBT