BULAWAYO – Students barricaded gates and forced a shutdown of the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo on Monday to protest a shock fees increase.
The university later abandoned the new US$720 semester fees and reverted to the US$320 set last September, which is also payable in Zimbabwe dollars.
Anti-riot police arrived at the university at around 5AM and found entrances barricaded with stones and tree branches. There were no students in sight after unions called for a stayaway.
Student Representative Council president Muziwenkosi Moyo said the protest was a success after the university’s management held a meeting with student unions which resolved to revert to the old fees.
“We are happy to inform you that the recently hiked fees of US$720 have been revoked and removed from your portals. Students will now continue to pay the preset ZWL fee structure adopted in September 2022,” Moyo said in an update to students.
“We encourage all students to proceed to pay the fees they were paying last semester and register. To preserve the value of the finances, the same fees will be pegged at the prevailing interbank rate, and the USD fees structure will be taken down and replaced with last semester’s updated ZWL fees structure.”
Students had bemoaned lack of consultation by NUST management before fees were raised.
“US$720 is too much,” one student said before the fees U-turn was announced. “My parents are struggling to make ends meet. I’m afraid if the fees are not reduced I will be forced to drop out.”
Another student, who also requested anonymity, said the university should engage students before increasing fees.
“Consultative meetings with the students are very important because they avoid situations where students stage protests.
Students will be able to air their grievances and the school authorities will take that into consideration as they make their decisions,” she said.
Thabani Mpofu, the director of communications and marketing at NUST said the issue had been resolved.
“Students are returning to class and the situation at the campus is back to normal,” Mpofu said.
NUST has an enrollment of over 10,000 students in both undergraduate and post-graduate programmes.