Gulu university students incur expenses in rent as lecturers uphold strike
By ABALO IRENE OTTO
More than 3000 private-sponsored students of Gulu University are incurring huge expenses in hostel fees, as lecturers uphold their sit-down strike over accumulated allowances.
The students, who mostly rent hostels per semester, say they decided to stay in the hostel during the strike, because their homes are far, and they are unsure when they will sit for the deferred examinations.
More than 4000 Gulu University students on December 2, 2017, missed their end of semester examinations, as lecturers went on strike over non-payment of their allowances.
The students claim that the landlords are demanding more money from them, because their rent for last semester expired.
Mr. Daniel Baziira, a former students’ representative at the University Senate, says many students from as far as Kasese district in South Western Uganda, remained in the hostel, hoping that they will be called anytime to sit for the examinations.
“Some of us remained at the hostel because transport to and from home would be more than the hostel fees,” Baziiras explains.
“The hostel owners are now demanding that we pay between shs 3, 000/= to Shs 5, 000/= per day, since our semester fees expired in December last year,” he adds.
According to Baziira, the cheapest hostel costs Shs350,000/= per semester, with two people sharing a room. The good hostels charge up to 1.2 million per semester,” Explains Baziira.
He says the hostel owners are no longer considering the holiday period and want payment for the time students are in their rooms, yet most students are running out of money.
“I reported back on the 2nd of January, to prepare for the papers, but up to now, there is no official communication on when we shall do exams. Going back home and coming again means more expenses for us,” he adds.
Calls for More Intervention
The students are appealing to the central government authorities, and President Yoweri Museveni, to save the situation.
The representative of private students in the council, Mr. Edmond Okello says the students need the central government to step in and do an authentic audit of the University.
“The President should the student leaders…because there are people within the administration, who believe that nothing can remove them from the university,” Okello alleges.
According to Okello, the University cannot fail to meet “legitimate” demands of lecturers, as money paid by private students each semester to the University is more than what the striking lecturers are demanding.
“The lecturers want only Shs700million out of the Shs4billion arrears for their allowances. We pay about 2.5 billion shillings every semester and government also sends money for paying lecturers,” he explains.
Okello wonders how the university fails to pay lecturers, yet no student is allowed to sit examinations without paying tuition fees in full.
Mr. Saadick .M. Ssentongo, the University Prime Minister in the Office of the Guild President, also thinks it is high time the President helped in solving problems of the University, as he does other universities, so that the learning process runs smoothly.
“Semester two activities like school practice for education students and other internship programs will be affected because of the deferred examinations,” Saadick explains.
“What kind of professionals does the University want to pass out if crucial academic issues cannot be resolved?” Ssentongo asks.
Meanwhile, Gulu University Public Relations Officer, Mahamoud Khalid has advised the students to remain home and wait for a communication from the university on when to resume studies, or do exams.
“The date when students will come back is still unknown. The tentative date of 16th January, 2018 so that students begin exams on 20th January has been cancelled because the university did not pay the lecturers. So as of now, there is no official communication until the issue is sorted.” Khalid says.
A team of about 14 members from the Education and Sports Committee of Parliament on Friday January 19, 2018 held a meeting at the University.
The committee that was led by Ms Nakayenze Connie Galwango met with the administration, student leaders and lecturers later resolved to push for the release of funds by Government to Gulu University so that lecturers can resume work.