Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
STUDENTS at Solusi University on the outskirts of Bulawayo last week boycotted lectures in protest over the university’s fees increase after the institution introduced a $90 development levy.
The new levy was introduced without the knowledge of the students at the Seventh Day Adventist Church run institution.
There is an impasse between the students and the university management over the fees issue with university authorities allegedly intimidating students.
The students on Thursday demanded an audience with the university’s management led by its Vice Chancellor Professor Joel Musvosvi who allegedly did not address the students concerns.
Instead of addressing the students, the university’s management allegedly called the anti-riot police who came and dispersed the protesting students.
The fees at the university are pegged at $900 for students studying humanities and commercials while those studying science courses pay close to $1 000.
In a statement, Prof Musvosvi confirmed that the university increased its fees by $90 but said this was the university council’s decision.
“The fee structure for 2017 was placed on the University website but there was no written communication sent to the students. Thus when students saw the charge on their statements of accounts there was surprise and consternation. As a result we held a meeting in the Cafeteria with the whole student body in which attempts were made to answer questions. It was stated that the fee structure is a creation of Council and cannot be changed by administration,” said Prof Musvosvi.
He said the university noted its mistake and apologised to the students for not communicating the fees increase.
The students who spoke to The Chronicle on Thursday said the levy was not justified.
The students said the university was now resorting to intimidating students trying to force them into writing reports implicating themselves for causing the chaos.
“The protest is a result of the students’ bottled up frustrations caused by management. The university smuggled a $90 levy which we don’t understand why it was imposed. Our fees are very high but it seems the university authorities do not appreciate this fact,” said one of the students.
He said on Thursday the university authorities called police to disperse them yet they were not violent.
Another student said the university was even charging them medical aid fees yet it does not offer any medical aid facility.
Other students said it was mind boggling why the university was intimidating them instead of addressing their concerns.
“Why are they calling the anti-riot police when we are demonstrating peacefully? The university wants to employ intimidating tactics. Today it is forcing some students to write reports stating that they are the ones inciting other students to riot,” said another student.
Zimbabwe Congress of Students’ Union (Zicosu) secretary general Cde Godknows Mdhari condemned victimisation of students saying the university was violating students’ rights.