. . . as students resume lectures
THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) Senate has extended the institution’s academic calendar by 15 days to make up for the nearly month-long strike by students which ended on Thursday.
According to a circular issued by the office of NUL registrar to the university’s staff and students, the academic calendar was extended by 15 teaching days including Saturdays starting from last Thursday to 20 May this year.
The resolution was reached during the NUL Senate’s executive meeting held on Thursday. The senate meeting was held on the same day students resumed attending lectures after suspending their nearly month-long strike to enable negotiations between the university and the government over a reported M18 million tuition fees shortfall.
The circular notes that the extension was prompted by the loss of 23 days due to the protests.
It further reads: “Revision week and examinations for first year students will begin on the 22nd to the 28th May 2017.
“Examinations for students in years II to V shall begin on the 29th May 2017 and end on the 1st June 2017 to allow students to travel home for elections on the 3rd June 2017.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao on Thursday confirmed to the Lesotho News Agency (LENA) that the students resumed attending lectures.
The higher education institution suspended lectures on 11 April 2017 after student protests at its Roma and Maseru campuses turned violent.
The protests were over Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s delay in responding to their 48 hour ultimatum to ensure their tuition fees were fully paid. The petition had been presented to the premier on 30 March 2017.
This was after the university had proposed a 16-49 percent tuition hike for first year students and 1-42 percent for senior students — depending on the programme of study — for the 2016/2017 academic year.
The fee structure was effected without the input of the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) which could only afford a 10 percent increase across the board.
The NMDS is mandated with paying tuition fees, costs of research, book allowances, accommodation and food allowances among other costs for selected students.
NUL Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao had said the tuition hikes were necessary to offset the high costs of running the university which included staff salaries.
He said NUL could fail to pay salaries for the month of June if the NMDS rejected paying for the new fee structure.
For the government’s part, Development Planning Minister Semano Sekatle said the university’s decision to increase the fees had been unilateral and unaffordable for the NMDS.
He also accused the students of being politically-motivated in protesting against the government instead of against the university which had raised their fees.
NUL Students Representative Council Secretary-General Thato Ponya also told LENA the government and university had until Friday this week to find a solution to the tuition fees impasse. He warned that failure to find a solution would result in the resumption of the strike and protests.