The examination season at Makerere University has ushered in anxiety among students especially finalists who are finding it hard to clear tuition. According to the university policy, each student is required to clear their fees balance before they receive permits granting them permission to access examination room.
Semester one examinations started on May 24th, 2021 and are expected to run until June 19th, 2021. However, many parents are struggling to clear tuition of because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, which affected most of their businesses and jobs. Besides, some of the students too lost their income generating avenues during the same.
The lock down also came along with effects such as online study program and increased use of handouts than before since students were away from campus as part of the COVID-19 control measures. Lectures have been ongoing online on zoom, Google meet and MUELE, which are online meeting applications.
This meant that students would spend on average Shillings 2000 daily for a single lecturer while handouts cost the students from Shillings 200 to Shillings 10,000 depending on the thickness. This was in addition to the tuition for most courses a minimum of Shillings 1 Million.
Mercy Aciro, a third year student of Bachelor of Education, says there is need for the university to give them a grace period to clear tuition this time round especially that some students have been struggling to spend on online lectures.
Fahad Lwasaka, who is pursuing a bachelor in Bio medical laboratory technology, gave up his part time job that used to partly pay his tuition. Much as he needed the job, transport to his work place increased after the lock down and he could no longer afford it.
To him, he wishes the administration could grant them a grace period since individual negotiations with the university Bursar to permit one without full payment are usually difficult.
Esther Namulinda, another student says that her plea is that those that have been able to raise at least part of the tuition should be permitted to sit the examinations this time round.
The university guild president, Ivan Ssempijja has petitioned the administration to grant students a grace period of seven days as they sit the exams and find tuition. He reasons that students that have been able to clear 60% of the tuition be permitted to pay up the rest next semester.
The Vice Chancellor could not comment on the petition as he was attending an engagement. However, the office of the academic registrar who was copied in to the petition noted that the grace period is always granted to sponsored students by different entities who usually write to them requesting for more time whenever needed.
In February 2021, students petitioned the academic registrar to have late tuition payment charges withdrawn to, which he responded positively, “This is to inform you that there will be no late registration /surcharge for this semester for now and the functionality has been removed from the students’ portal. This is in regard to the Communication to Students regarding fees payment for Sem I 2020/21”