ZOU students following unexpected new fees regulations
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The institution has told its students that they were now required to pay their fees in full at the beginning of every semester instead of paying in instalments like they used to do.
The institution's management also gave them an option of applying for bank loans from People's Own Savings Bank (POSB) and Kingdom Bank to pay fees, which the students said was unreasonable.
The university charges $595 for five courses and $480 for four courses per semester.
Those who were paying their fees in instalments were required to pay an initial fee of at least $287 and then pay the rest within a period of six months.
The university's second semester begins on Monday.
Students who spoke to Chronicle on Thursday expressed fear that they would not be able to complete their degree programmes as they could not afford to pay the fees in full.
They said applying for bank loans was not the solution as the banks would deduct a lot of money from their accounts, leaving them with nothing to fend for their families.
"When we collected our results last semester we were surprised after being informed that the university now requires cash upfront before new or returning students could be accepted as students. We did not even get an explanation on why the university has decided to change the payment conditions," said a third-year student who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"What surprises me is that the university is giving out loan application forms, saying we can apply for loans to pay the fees from POSB and Kingdom Bank, which is not fair for some of us because this means that our salaries have to come through these two selected banks," he said.
Another disgruntled student said the development was not feasible since some of them did not have formal jobs that would allow them to apply for the loans.
"Some of us are civil servants and we have bank accounts where we receive our salaries from. The disadvantage of changing our bank accounts is that it would take longer for us to get our monthly salaries.
"It might be a good idea to apply for the loans but what happens when I want to pay for the next semester and the bank is still deducting money from my account. Most of us are adults who have many responsibilities that have to be catered for through the same monthly salary," she said.
The student appealed to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education to intervene on the issue, saying their paltry salaries were not adequate to meet the university's demands.
"Most of us are earning not more than $500. As for me I have two school going children who need fees at the end of this month. I am a third-year student and it would be devastating for me to quit now.
"I would like to appeal to the relevant ministry to come to our rescue and come up with a solution where both the university and the students would be happy," she said.
Efforts to get a comment from the ZOU director of communications, marketing and publications, Mrs Ndai Nyamagura, were fruitless as her mobile phone was not reachable.
However, an official from the university who spoke on condition of anonymity said the institution was justified in demanding cash upfront from the students.
"We offered staggered payments as an extra-ordinary incentive to the students and what we are doing now is just withdrawing the system and going back to what we used to do.
"Paying cash upfront at the beginning of every semester is the international standard as far as fees payment is concerned and this is what other universities are doing," said the official.
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