Although the Malawi High Court has ruled against the staggering increase in tuition fees from MWK 250,000 to MWK 950,000 for the University of Malawi and the Polytechnic, the mere proposal put forward by the country’s state tertiary institutions is a good indication of the rapid increase predicted in the cost of higher education in the years to come.
While the quality of education has generally improved across the region, it now transpires that this increase in quality comes at a considerable cost. More tutors, better equipment and an increase in the number of students translates into higher operating expenses, with the extra cost being filtered down to students in the form of increases in tuition fees. Nevertheless, the proposed increase of almost 400% is hardly justifiable, when the legal minimum annual income in Malawi is currently around MWK 180,000.
Unhappy students have been taking the streets protesting, while the Polytechnic hasn’t been operating normally. This dispute, although settled for the moment, is likely to reappear next year, and no one can be certain about the possible outcome.
Government institutions of higher education and traditional local universities in the region, running on tight budgets in the past, are now having to compete with private universities and colleges, such as Unicaf University, which operate with more up-to-date facilities and bigger staff. In addition, the organisational structure of modern colleges and universities is more efficient, helping to keep their operating costs lower.
It is estimated that, by 2040, Africa will have the world’s largest labour force, ahead of even India and China. But as things stand today, Africa’s labour force faces some serious challenges, lacking in adequate educational training and professional skills. China, Japan and the UK have all invested heavily in Africa and are creating significant employment opportunities, searching for skilled candidates, with qualifications that are internationally recognisable.
Now is the time for all universities and colleges in the region, public and private, to step up their game offer quality higher education at a logical cost to African students, thereby ensuring that native African graduates are increasingly selected to fill the growing number of vacancies in professional positions.
For information about the Unicaf University, please visit www.unicafuniversity.com