• April 6th, 2020

Student leaders petition Nust, Unam… registration fees remain a hot potato

WINDHOEK - Student leaders and political youth movements say they remain resolute in the struggle to ensuring free registration costs at local universities. 

The student leaders have also threatened to shut down tertiary institutions if their demands, including funding concerns for poor students, are not addressed. 

Registration at various institutions of higher learning started yesterday, with the Students’ Union of Namibia (SUN) intensifying calls for a free quality education. 

Last week, SUN convened a consultative forum with student representative councils from institutions of higher learning as part of its fundamental objective to rally students and young people behind the vision of free quality education. SUN president Simon Amunime yesterday said a task force would go back to various campuses, with the view of engaging management on the resolution taken on registration fees collectively by student leaders. “However, no positive response has been communicated so far by the universities themselves, a clear indication that they undermine the spirit of negotiations. Maybe our request is falling on deaf ears,” Amunime said yesterday. 

“We hereby announce that registration fees are bound to fall in 2020, because tertiary education should be accessible to all students.” 

Last week, the Popular Democratic Movement Youth League (PDMYL) also promised to fight for the many prospective students who performed exceptionally well in Grade 12 during 2019 final exams and qualify for tertiary education, but are unable to afford the high registration fees required by local universities. 

The PDMYL, in particular, vowed to fight for those needy students who qualify for state funding through the Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (Nsfaf). On the other hand, SUN demanded first-year students to register for free, by providing acknowledgement letters as proof of funding from Nsfaf, while senior students funded by the fund, should register for free across the board.  The student union also wants privately funded students to pay for a ceiling registration amount of a maximum of N$3 000 for all institutions as opposed to the N$5 600 charged by the University of Namibia and N$4 200 by the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust). For postgraduate students, SUN resolved that universities consider a ceiling amount of N$4 000 across the board, as opposed to the N$8 000 charged by Nust, and N$7 000 by Unam for Masters and PhD students. SUN also demanded that government assist in writing off debts of students who are in arrears, while increasing the subsidy to public institutions of higher learning as a remedy for operational and administrative costs. In defence, Unam spokesperson John Haufiku said government funds about 90 percent of all university expenses.

“Paying registration and tuition fees is just the small commitment prospective students are asked to make to help the institution function. Unam is not a profit-making institution. All the money received is squarely geared towards offering a conducive environment for education to take place,” he said. On his part, Nust registrar Maurice Garde said they are behind the mission of SUN in supporting all tertiary education students across the country.  

Unfortunately, he said, neither SUN nor the Nust SRC has approached the university with any proposal regarding a reduction in registration fees over the past weeks. 

“As this is the first time Nust has heard this call from the SUN, it would be prudent for the university to meet with the Nust SRC and discuss how best to support its students to ensure that all students are supported going forward,” he said. 

“Nust is not aware that SUN hosted a consultative forum with SRCs that constituted task teams to engage the university management on such issues.” 

However, Garde said the Nust management is open to full discussions with its SRC on ways to support students be it financially, academically or otherwise. “Therefore, until the SRC meets with management, we cannot comment on any specific proposal.”

Albertina Nakale
2020-01-21 07:15:49 | 2 months ago

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