The country’s universities and colleges are in financial dire straits as government fails to pay them more than $60 million in outstanding fees under a scheme for needy students.
Higher and Tertiary Education director for university education, Martha Muguti, told parliament’s Higher Education, Science and Technology Portfolio Committee that universities in the country are struggling to cope as a result of the unpaid fees.
She said the majority of students in universities and tertiary institutions are unable to pay tuition fees, adding even the few paying for themselves are struggling.
She said the non-payment of tuition has had a devastating impact on the institutions.
Finance and administration director in the Higher Education Ministry, George Milton Chabururuka said the amount owed to the ministry relates to 2012 only, adding the ministry has this year only received $7,500 for poor students under the cadetship scheme, which is way below what is required.
Muguti and Chabururuka said the ministry has since the beginning of the year not received any funds for operations and yet they have to provide $13 million for state universities and college salaries every month.
Muguti said the ministry and universities are courting partners in the private sector to help improve their services.
She said government must not play hide and seek but announce that it is failing to fund universities and encourage parents to take responsibility for their children’s education as they do in pre-schools.
University students doing arts are supposed to pay $400 per semester while those doing medicine and veterinary science are expected to fork out $500. Some pre-schools charge more $600 a term.
Muguti said students are also expected to pay for accommodation and transport, adding this has forced most of them to squat in overcrowded conditions in high density areas with four or five students sharing a room paying between $50 and $60 each.
Zimbabwe has nine state universities, eight polytechnics, 13 primary teacher training and four secondary teacher training colleges.