University of Malawi mature entry students bemoan frequent closures
MZUZU (Patrick Botha, Mana)- University of Malawi (Unima) mature entry students say lack of consideration by the students union and university council to come up with quick resolutions on disagreements leading to frequent closures is hitting hard on them.
The mature entry students from The Polytechnic and Chancellor College bemoaned that the never ending rows have a negative impact on them because they have limited study time agreed upon with employers.
In recent years, the two colleges have been plagued by regular closures due to recurrent stand-off between the students and the university council on a variety of issues.
The students from the two colleges have been home for two months now following closure because of a stand-off over normal entry students’ demand for a raise of monthly upkeep allowance from K40, 000 to K60, 000.
Several discussions have taken place between the two parties since the students staged a sit-in a couple of months ago. But, so far, nothing concrete has materialized as the parties have failed to reach out a workable compromise in the row.
A random interview by Malawi News Agency (Mana) with some of the students especially those based in the northern region, has shown that the frequent closures are hitting hard on the mature entry group both in time and financially.
Christina Mkutumula from The Polytechnic said the more time is wasted through unfruitful negotiations, the more study time is wasted for them because they have to consider liaising with their employment institutions each time they face calendar extensions.
“As mature students, our time here is limited as most of us are working and we have a time frame for our stay at the university, so these closures are really a big inconvenience.
“Imagine a course that is to take you two years to complete will roll over to three and a half years. But when these normal entry students stage their sit-ins it affects all of us,” said a visibly worried Mkutumula.
A Chancellor College student who sought anonymity said she does not care whether the normal entry students have a valid reason for their act or not “but being caught up in this whole mess was not pleasant”.
“You know most of us mature students, unlike our counterparts, go there with a definitive purpose. We want to get our degrees in the shortest period possible so that we can access further education overseas or get promoted at work.
“It is very painful to see young graduates being promoted while you are skipped because you do not have a degree,” she said.
She further blamed government for introducing the student’s allowances in the first place, arguing she would rather love to see things reverted to the old system where everybody paid fees but at a subsidized cost.
“The normal entry students don’t really mind [whether they stay long in college] because it is like they are literally paid for getting into university. And K60, 000 is way more than what most civil servants get after tax. It’s a total mockery,” she observed with a touch of sadness.
Meanwhile, the university council has called the students to report for classes on Monday 17th June after filling a special form to express willingness to attend classes.
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