UNIVERSITY of Zambia (UNZA) Vice Chancellor Professor Luke Mumba says students who have missed the November exams will be given a chance to write the deferred exams in December after paying their fees.
And Prof Mumba says students currently owe the institution around K57 million in unpaid fees.
Meanwhile, Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri says two students have been arrested for staging protests at the University.
Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Prof Mumb announced that management had decided to introduce the deferred exams to help students source for funds to pay their outstanding dues before they write the exams.
“What I saw happening last night does not augur well for UNZA, which has now risen in Africa rankings. We are number 18, but with the kinds of images I was seeing last night, that is subtracting from the successes that we have achieved. So, we have extended an amnesty to students this exam we started on the 16th of November, we are ending on 30th of November. If you have missed any paper or papers and you have not been able to find money, we are saying we will give you another chance in December to write a deferred exam so that your parents can find monies from November, December salaries for you to be able to pay your fees. We need those fees to be able to pay salaries for staff. The same staff who are giving your exams, they will not mark those papers, if they are not paid their salaries for November and December,” Prof Mumba said.
“It is very interesting that since exams started on Monday and management has put its foot down in a way on this matter, we are seeing students paying, meaning that students were either holding onto their money or the parents were holding onto the money. So, progressively, the collections are increasing. If you go to the bank, Zanaco, you will find a long queue: students are paying. That is what we want students to do, they should pay. We are not asking for too much. University does not run on credit.”
Prof Mumba said that 76 per cent of students had fully paid their tuition fees, while 24 per cent did not pay, leaving a balance of K57 million.
“The total amount of money involved is K57 million, this can see us upto the end of the year. So, what we have here in terms of latest statistics is that the number of registered students, who have paid up 100 per cent, who we are inconveniencing by the actions that we are doing now because they have made on the requirements are 9,225. So, 76 per cent of the students have paid 100 per cent. Those that have not paid, that have not reached 100 per cent and these are the ones we are having challenges with, are 2,796, which represents 24 per cent. So, the total number of students is 12,021. So, the challenge is with the 2,796 students, representing 24 per cent,” he disclosed.
And Prof Mumba said all erring students who were involved in Tuesday’s protests and attempted to burn school infrastructure would be dealt with.
“I would like to say that the report I have received from our chief of security, other than the fires, which were set, which is arson, it is a criminal offence to want to set public infrastructure of UNZA, that is a very serious of fence! We have identified some students through our CCTV systems. Also some of the students, who are not for what is going on, the majority of students have also given us names of the culprits. Very soon, within the next 48 hours, stern action is going to be taken because management wants to send a very strong message that acts of vandalism, anarchy, breaking the law, breaking the rules and regulations of the University is not going to be tolerated,” Prof Mumba said.
He added that allowing students, who owed the institution to write exams and then withholding their results until they paid, had proven to be unrealistic and costly for the institution.
“There have been discussions out there that UNZA management is being very harsh, ‘why don’t they allow students to write exams…?’ ‘After they write the exams, they will come and pay when collecting results…’ [Students usually] say that, ‘we need to register for the next academic year, we need to get scholarships for the next academic year, but we can’t do those things until we know our results, can you release our results?’ Students are very clever, they have been using this formula, year in and year out. So, we are given instructions and directives to release the results. For those who are graduating and have finished, the pressure goes like this: ‘these students have finished, they need to begin working, they can’t be employed if you don’t release their results. We want to deploy them in the Ministry of Health, in the Ministry of General Education, but you are holding onto their results; we need their services. They will pay later; release those results! Management, releases those results!’ What happens is that the Office of the Auditor General comes to audit the University, they produce a report, which shows that in year X, 3,000 University of Zambia students never paid their fees. Then, we are called to PAC Public Accounts Committee) to explain. We are carpeted as an incompetent management! ‘Why do you allow students who have not paid to sit for exams?’, This is what happens,” said Prof Mumba.
“Even our employer, the University Council, says, ‘what kind of management is this?’ When we go to government to say, ‘we don’t have money to run the University, [they say], but how come you are failing to collect fees from students, how can it be? You have to collect fees from the students because that is part of your budget.’ 60 per cent of the UNZA budget is financed by tution fees. So, when you put pressure on management to allow you to go and have exams without paying your fees, we are committing a crime. Our jobs are on the line. So, we are viewed that we are not performing. So, our plea to all stakeholders, students, intellectuals, to understand the position of management. We are not being hard just for its own sake because we are bad people. We have a responsibility to run this university and we cannot run it without collecting fees.”
Meanwhile, in an interview, Phiri announced that police had arrested two UNZA students for protesting.
“Yes, we have arrested two, only two were arrested. We will charge them. [at the moment] I don’t have the names of students,” said Phiri.