Polytechnic Students Threaten Boycott – Want Fees Decreased

Thousands of students of the Polytechnic of Namibia have threatened to boycott the institution’s registration process next week if the registration fees – recently increased by 10 percent – are not reduced by 50 percent. The registration fees per semester increased to N$3 300 from N$3 000.

Student Representative Council (SRC) president Oscar Mwandingi revealed the threat in a petition handed to the Polytechnic’s management yesterday when a group of disgruntled students converged on the institution’s premises to make known their displeasure.

“The Student Representative Council has established that there is a direct outcry from the students with regard to the increase. We have an ethical and moral responsibility to the students who have elected us into office and thus it will be a great oversight for us not to do anything about it,” said Mwandingi.

Polytechnic of Namibia’s director for marketing and communications Kaitira Kandjii received the petition on behalf of Polytechnic rector Professor Tjama Tjivikua yesterday. “The rector is happy to receive your petition and he is aware of the issue, he will respond to it accordingly,” said Kandjii.

Tjivikua is still on annual leave and returns to office on Thursday.

Students are required to register twice for two semesters in an academic calendar year – at the beginning of the year and in mid-year, which brings the total registration fees to N$6 600.

In the petition the student leaders also called on government to increase the subsidy allocated to the Polytechnic. “We as the SRC are requesting that registration fees be reduced at least by 50 percent that allows for most students the ability to register.”

“The only compromise we are willing to accept outside negotiation is that if the current fees remain intact, then the payment should be paid in only once at the beginning of the year as opposed to subjecting students to double payment,” Mwandingi said.

According to Mwandingi, the SRC decided to “put registration on hold until such time our problems are dealt with”.

For the 20142015 financial year, government allocated N$331 million to the Polytechnic while for the 20152016 financial year the estimated allocation is N$449 million.

The Polytechnic management has over the years been involved in a love-hate relationship with the Ministry of Education, with the institution decrying its budget allocation claiming it is not commensurate with the financial demands of its work programme.

The ministry has also been accused of favouring the University of Namibia more than the Polytechnic when it comes to funding.

The SRC says the increase in registration and tuition fees places an unfair burden on students.

“The SRC is aware that the decision to increase the fees was made to help reduce the deficit the institution is running. But we do not think it is fair to constantly make the students absorb the deficit by charging them more, students should not be held accountable for management and government complacency,” Mwandingi said.

Source : New Era