Choosing a university and a course are not just academic decisions but monetary ones too. As this article illustrates, the differences in fees from one university to another and course are apparentEven as universities wait for an amendment to the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Act, the biting global financial crisis has forced them to increase their fees.
Under the present law, they need government approval to hike fees. However, if the recommendations in the government white paper on tertiary institutions are adopted, universities would be free to levy their own fees.
For now, the most in-demand universities are becoming more expensive for students seeking tertiary education, especially one that will end in a university degree in about three years.
And it could cost anywhere from Shs5 million a year upwards.
Right now the most expensive university course is the Bachelor of Science (Architecture) offered at Uganda Martyrs University in Nkozi, which goes for Shs2, 200,000 per semester in tuition fees alone.
Kampala International University's engineering courses come next at Shs1, 893,000, followed closely by ICT offered by Makerere University at Shs1, 890,000.
Makerere University's Bachelor of Science (Architecture) comes next at Shs1, 555,000.
All these outstrip Human and Veterinary Medicine which are considerably more affordable at Makerere, Gulu and Mbarara universities.
At the other end of the spectrum, the most affordable course across the board is BA Education offered at the Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), which costs Shs511, 000. The most expensive Education course is at the Uganda Christian University (UCU) in Mukono and costs Shs1, 038,000 per semester.
The gulf in costs by the two universities could reflect several aspects, including the experience of the teaching faculty, facilities available, and the status of the institutions.
According to a source at the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), it is expected that the more experienced an institution is, the more it will charge for its courses.
When it comes to facilities and faculty, Makerere continues to be head and shoulders above everyone else; and it should be. It has been around longest, is still prominent and prestigious, and most of the other universities are using lecturers schooled in their fields by Makerere. This alone makes it the more expensive university in the land.
With ICT becoming all the rage as a result of a technology explosion over the last couple of years, ICT related courses have become increasing popular and expensive.
The most expensive ICT course is to be found at Makerere University, where it costs Shs1, 890,000. And by contrast, the most affordable ICT course is at Ggaba-based Kampala University, where it costs Shs748, 000 per semester.
But in between those extremes, our survey found that there are numerous options and the course is one of those currently offered by almost all the universities at various fees.
For those with an eye on the increasingly lucrative agricultural field, Makerere University has the most expensive Bachelor of Science in Agriculture course at Shs1, 344, 000 per semester, while the most affordable course on the subject is at Uganda Christian University Mukono at Shs1,038,000.