Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) block release students who were having their lessons in Bulawayo before the country entered into lockdown have bemoaned the recent fees hike by the institution of higher learning at a time when they have almost completed their studies.
Students from GZU told CITE they have been asked to pay additional ZWL$2,000 meant for online learning or risk deferring their studies to the next academic year.
The additional amount means total fees has been increased from ZWL $4 835 to ZWL $ 6 835, a development that has not gone down well with many students who feel short-changed.
“I am doing block here in Bulawayo cohort,” said a student who refused to be named for fear of victimisation.
“We were told to pay ZWL $4, 835 for fees and then buy our own data and do online learning and we did so. Last week they (GZU authorities) said we are now supposed to pay ZWL $6, 835 for fees after we are done with the assignments and everything.”
The student further said: “They are now saying they will give us data; we no longer need it. The question is what for? Already we bought data and did our lectures using our own data. Now they are saying everyone who has paid up his or her fees should visit NetOne and get a SIM card preloaded with data.”
He added that some of their colleagues who live in remote areas without network coverage have to travel long distances to get the SIM cards.
“The other question is why NetOne only? Have they considered that there are some students in remote areas where there is no network coverage? From my group, there is someone in Filabusi who is supposed to come to NetOne offices in Bulawayo or go to Zvishavane to just get data,” he said.
Another student said there was no justification to the increase considering the semester was almost over and that they no longer needed data.
“The semester is coming to an end and we have been buying data for ourselves to write assignments and attend lectures,” she said.
“While we are waiting to write our examinations we are forced to pay the fees,” she bemoaned.
“We usually finish our outstanding fees balance while awaiting results but now they are pressurising us before we even write the exams and in this lockdown. We don’t even know when we are going to write but they are threatening us with deferment. We are now confused.”
Contacted for comment GZU Deputy Registrar, Innocent Chinyemba, denied that that the institution had hiked fees dismissing the students’ allegations as baseless.
“I have no idea what you are talking about; we did not increase any fees,” he said.
“You can check on the university’s website the fees structure is outlined and nothing has been changed. I think you have been misinformed.”
However, according to the institution’s website, off-campus block release programmes have fees pegged at over ZWL$ 5,000 being the lowest for both Harare and Bulawayo cohort and the highest being over ZWL$ 11 000.