Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) students are up in arms with the school’s authorities and are threatening to boycott this year’s graduation ceremony over high graduation fees which they say are beyond the reach of many.
CUT is allegedly charging ZWL$625 for the one-day event while for a normal semester the school charges $785 per student.
The students feel that the charge is far too much compared to what other higher learning institutions in the country are charging. The Midlands State University (MSU) which is charging ZWL$300 while the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) is charging ZWL$240 inclusive the gown.
The students allege that the fee was imposed on them and they cannot afford to pay up due to the current economic condition.
Former Business school representative Cephas Nhari said they have approached the school authorities but they were met with cold shoulders as the authorities have been avoiding them.
“The school administration has been avoiding us as we tried to discuss the issue with them. They haven’t even announced officially the graduation. The biggest underlying issues are to do with the graduation gown which the authorities say can be bought from the school or one can get from any supplier, so we need clarity,” he said.
According to a source at the school, the high fees are set to cover the provision of gowns to the relevant students; rental of chairs and public address system for the ceremony; the Chancellor’s reception for students; the provision of diplomas; and the publication of graduation programmes and convocation booklets, among other things.
Students are constantly complaining about poor facilities, out-dated curriculums, heavy fees, and late release of grades by lecturers.
Student activist Tinotenda Gwaze said the fees are highly unjustified especially in a hyperinflationary environment.
“We feel the fees are too much, most of us since we finished school months ago remain unemployed and we cannot afford to finance this graduation. Our parents are also struggling, their salaries have remained stagnant since time immemorial.
“This makes it difficult for us to then afford this and it will be a tragedy for one to have worked all these years to only not graduate,” said Gwaze.
He said some students are mulling a demonstration at the CUT offices to force the authorities to hear their grievances.
Another student, Kudakwashe Muchirawehondo called the move “absurd” while calling for a review of the fees.
“In this economic turbulence, where tuition is ZWL$785, and most people are children of civil servants, why would the school decide to peg the graduation fee at 650 dollars.
“Where do they expect our parents to get that much money to pay for a single day, ZWL$100 dollars less of what someone is paying for an entire semester?
“This move by CUT is so absurd. What matters the most to the current graduates is their certificate and the gown, can the school not peg the amount within those two parameters and give us a reasonable figure that can be met without a complaint,” he said.
CUT students have started a petition calling on the school authorities to slash the graduation fees by 50 percent.