The President has also ordered the immediate re-opening of Chancellor College of the University of Malawi-UNIMA which was closed a few weeks ago, following disagreements between the Council and students.
The President was speaking during an audience he had with representatives of students unions from the country’s public universities of Chancellor College, the Polytechnic, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources-LUANAR, Mzuzu University and Malawi University of Science and Technology-MUST.
Speaking during the meeting which the President described as fruitful and open, Prof Mutharika said there was need to reach a balance between improving education standards to international levels and meeting the cost of tertiary education.
“I am still proud of you as University Students. You are this nation’s forthcoming intellectuals, decision makers and solution finders. I know that there are some students who genuinely want dialogue for us to find a balanced solution. But I also know that there are some who want to use fees as an excuse for their own politics,” said President Mutharika.
He however asked the students to be open-minded and address their matter with sober reasoning.
“But let’s focus on fees. I am fully aware that we have a matter before us that needs to be addressed with sober reasoning. We need to find the right balances. It is because we care about those who cannot afford that we have increased the loan facility in our nation budget. I do not want you to believe that university education is free,” he added.
Prof Mutharika noted that while the reduction in the new fees structure will cripple some of the programmes of the University Council, there is need to find way of meeting the gap.
“While the new fees structures meant to cater for all that the Council needed to do, the reduction will have a slight bearing on its operations. Let me therefore request the Ministry of Finance to make available K1.1 billion to the Council so that it fills the gap created,” he further said.
In his response, President of the University of Malawi Students Union-UMSU Tionge Sikwese hailed the President for listening to their concerns and addressing them in a matter that they anticipated.
“We are glad with the resolutions made and the fact that Chancellor College has to be re-opened as soon as possible to allow for continuation of the academic calendar,” he said.
On the reduction of the fees, Sikwese said although they would have loved the fees to be reduced by atleast K70,000, they are happy that there still has been a reduction which is substantial.