University of Zambia public relations manager Damaseke Chibale says the institution is owed K58 million from 8,000 students.

In a statement yesterday, Chibale explained that the payment structure was extremely flexible.

“Generating revenue through tuition fees has been a challenging undertaking for the University despite the flexible arrangements accorded to our students. This is more pronounced with self-sponsored students and some of them who are not on 100% government sponsorship. The University is currently owed K58 million in unpaid fees from 8,000 students,” Chibale said.

“It should be noted that the growing practice of non-payment of tuition fees has affected the smooth operations of the University. Providing quality higher education services, comes with various unavoidable costs such as purchase of teaching and laboratory materials, preparing and marking examinations, and Library and information technology services. To keep the University running UNZA has to pay for utilities such electricity, water, sewerage services, medical services as well as general maintenance of equipment and infrastructure.”

He said UNZA had to change the way things had been done in the past in order to remain relevant.

“More importantly, the university has a legal obligation to pay salaries for its academic and non-academic staff for them to efficiently and effectively execute their duties for the benefit of the students and society in general. Therefore, for the University of Zambia to operate efficiently and remain relevant to the new trends in higher education service delivery, it has to change the way things have been done in the past,” he said.

“Thus the University, like other institutions in the region and in the country, has come up with flexible tuition payment methods which all students and their sponsors are aware of. Students have been accorded the opportunity to pay for their tuition fees in four (4) instalments as follows:1) First installment – 37.5% – start of first term which enable them to be registered in the University system, 2) Second installment – 25% – beginning of second term, 3) Third installment – 25% – beginning of third term and 4) Fourth installment – 12.5% – before writing end-of-academic-year examinations.”

He said management understood the challenges which parents and sponsors faced but they still had to honour their obligations.

“It is clear that Management takes cognisance of the challenges parents, guardians and sponsors face but there is a necessity for them to honour their obligations. Additionally, the University has also accorded some students a user friendly payment plan for those with historic tuition fee arrears which is being managed under the Academic Affairs Unit,” said Chibale.

“With these friendly tuition fee payment provisions, there is no excuse for students and/or their sponsors to default in honouring their obligations, that is, paying tuition fees, particularly if they value university education. Therefore, management would like to urge all affected students, without exception, to take advantage of the available provisions for paying tuition fees to avoid any inconveniences.”

He also clarified that students were still allowed to attend lectures.

Recently, university management issued a Memo informing affected students that they would not be allowed to write exams this if they did not clear their arrears.