Higher Education Minister Dr Brian Mushimba says 636 students at Mulungushi University have been restricted from writing exams for failure to honour their agreed payment plan.

And Dr Mushimba says allowing students to write exams without paying required creates a lot of problems for institutions.

Responding to question from Katombola UPND member of parliament Derrick Livune, who wanted to find out if government was aware that students at Mulungushi University were not allowed to write exams, Mushimba said some students had fallen in the habit of not fulfilling their obligations.

“Yes, government is aware that some students have been restricted from writing their exams for failure to honor their agreed upon payment plan. This is in line with the universities’ policy which provides for agreed payment plan with the students. The payment plan requires students to at least pay 50 per cent at registration, additional 30 per cent by the time they write their exams and the balance of 20 per cent when they go to collect their results,” Dr Mushimba said.

“However, some students have fallen into a habit of not fulfilling their obligations. Some of them openly declaring that ‘fya boma’ and that government will intervene and instruct the university to allow them to write even if they hadn’t honoured their payment plans. But since management has a policy that governs the payment plans, they went ahead and enforced it and only allowed those that had paid up to the agreed threshold to write their final exams. Madam Speaker, as of Monday 9th December 2019, only 10 percent of the eligible students were impacted by the policy enforcement that represent 636 students out of the total population of 6,400 registered students.”

Dr Mushimba, however, said management had engaged students in order to agree on the revised payment plan.

“The House may wish to note that management has engaged students in order to agree on the revised payment plans on how they would settle what is required before they are allowed to write the exams. As a result of this ongoing dialogue with the university management, some of the affected students have since been allowed to write their exams,” Dr Mushimba said.

“For those who that are genuinely unable to pay the requested amount due to established vulnerability by the university, university management is engaging them on a case by case basis and the way forward is being found in terms of more favorable payment terms for settling their outstanding balances. The university has committed to provide an opportunity for this student to write their final exams once the ongoing assessments so that no one will lose the entire year.”

And Dr Mushimba said allowing students to write exams without paying had created a lot of problems for institutions.

“We gave a blanket guidance to the institutions to allow students write their final exams and hold their results. That has created a lot of problems and we are learning from that. We allowed students at the Copperbelt University (CBU) to write and hold their results, CBU right now is grappling with a K20 million funding gap because students have not gone to get results and the university has to function and government now doesn’t know what to do on that gap. UNZA is going through the same situation. Even Mulungushi is grappling with a K12 million funding gap because of the generosity of government to allow everyone to write and let people to write exams,” Dr Mushimba said.

“So what we are trying to stick to now is that each student has an obligation to go to the university, voice their concern on what they are able to pay and what they are not able to pay, agree to that and honor that. The challenge that we are facing is that they will go and agree to pay a K100 a month and they don’t honor it. We have to instill that responsibility in the parents, in the guardians, in the students, to make sure what they commit…because it is from those fees that close the gap that are there by design.”