New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Makerere Defends Tuition Policy, Students Released On Bond

Photo: Newvision
Striking Makerere students at Wandegeya Police Station.

The nine Makerere University students who were arrested on Tuesday in a strike have been released on bond.

The students were arrested on the second sequential day of rioting over the university policy that requires all privately sponsored students to pay at least 60% of their tuition fees in the first six weeks of the semester.

They included Dickson Adomati, the former students' guild constitutional affairs minister and Geoffrey Mutagobwa, the students' guild private students' affairs minister.

The others were Ivan Bowe, Bashir Kabuye, David Baala, John Dyambaki, Rogers Mubiru, Peter Kisada and Chris Akankwasa.

Police faulted the nine for masterminding the two-day strike that brought business at the university to a pause.

They were released on Tuesday at around 9:00pm from various police stations in Kampala including Kira road, Wandegeya, Central and Kawempe where they were being held for allegedly inciting their colleagues to violence.

According to police, the students will report to the respective police stations where they were detained on Friday this week in a bid to extend their bond term as investigations into the matter intensify.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Ibin Ssenkumbi disclosed to the New Vision that the students will be charged with inciting violence once investigations into the matter are concluded.

The 60% tuition policy was passed by the university council, the university's supreme decision making body in 2005; nonetheless, its implementation has triggered numerous strikes.

Moses Kyeyune the students' guild minister of information attacked police for intervening in the strike saying the police are bent on supporting the university administration.

Kyeyune was quick to note that the charges police are pressing against the students will not deter other students from pursuing their goal of ensuring that the university scraps the policy.

"We have issued an ultimatum to the university administration for them to respond to our demand. When the ultimatum elapses on Friday without any positive response, we shall come up with a new strategy of fighting the policy," Kyeyune warned.

However, it is unlikely that Makerere will scrap the policy since tuition is the major source of funding.

Makerere university senior public relations officer, Ritah Namisango defended the tuition policy saying it is aimed at enabling smooth running of the University and availing the necessary facilitation to conduct teaching and learning.

"In the event that a student is unable to raise enough money to pay for a full semester load, the student has the option choosing the course load within the first six weeks and paying for that as he/she can afford, which entitles the student to get registered," Namisango explained.

The minimum course loads permitted under the above arrangement is at least 60% of the total credit units (course units) for that semester, she added.

The Office of the Academic Registrar has set March 8, 2013 as the deadline for students to comply with the policy. Most students say they cannot meet the deadline due to financial constraints.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor John Ddumba-Ssentamu Monday requested the students' guild to write a petition to the Council detailing their grievances and proposing a way forward which the students did.

Prof. Ddumba and the council are yet to respond to the petition.

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InFocus

Uganda's Makerere Students Jailed Over Riots

Striking Makerere students at Wandegeya Police Station.

Nineteen students from Makerere University have been sent to jail for allegedly inciting violence during a strike protesting the university's tuition payment policy. Read more »