By CHARLES MUSONDA
ABOUT 2, 796 students are owing the University Zambia (UNZA) K57 million in unpaid tuition fees, management has disclosed.
Addressing journalists in Lusaka yesterday, UNZA Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba said this represents 24 percent out of the total registered number of 9, 225 students, of which 76 percent have paid 100 percent of their fees.
Prof. Mumba pleaded with stakeholders to understand UNZA management’s position that it is not being harsh on defaulting students but just fulfilling its responsibility of running the institution, whose operations require money.
He said Government, through the Ministry of Higher Education, has paid for all students under its sponsorship at UNZA, adding that the university management has exhausted its 2020 budget, which comprises K200 million annual grant from government, about K204 million from tuition fees, and the rest from the university’s business ventures..
He said unless defaulting students settle their arrears, UNZA management will not have money to prepare for exams and that it has to pay external examiners to review what the university is doing.
Prof. Mumba said the formula of allowing defaulting students write exams without clearing arrears is not working and has failed the institution because most of such learners do not pay after writing the exams.
On Tuesday night’s protests in which some students lit fires around the campus, he said the incident did not augur well for UNZA as it was subtracting successes the institution has scored and enabled it to be ranked 18th on Africa’s top 20 universities.
He warned any act of trying to or burning public infrastructure is arson, a serious criminal offence and that management has so far identified some students behind the act through closed circuit television (CCTV). Prof. Mumba said students who were against the failed protests have given management names of culprits and that stern action will be taken against them in the next 48 hours because anarchy will not be tolerated.
He however said the fires did not cause any damage as UNZA security personnel quickly doused the infernos.
He thanked the Zambia Police for ensuring that the students who attempted to run amok did not stray out of the campus to damage public and private property.
Prof. Mumba also called for the de-politicisation of UNZA, saying some outsiders were going into the campus to incite students to rise against authorities.
By CHARLES MUSONDA