The Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) is set to control tuition fees in higher learning institutions by using the ‘Student Unit Cost’ after controversies over the charges.
TCU Executive Secretary Prof Sifuni Mchome revealed the plan in an exclusive interview with The Guardian recently, saying the Commission has realized the need for it to check the fee amount charged by universities in accordance with the courses offered.
He said it has been difficult for the Commission to control the fees because there is no basis for comparing the costs charged by the institutions, he said, adding that it has therefore prepared and submitted the ‘Student Unit Cost’ to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training for scrutiny.
“TCU has already constructed the ‘Student Unit Cost’ and forwarded it to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, and we ask it to speed up scrutiny, so that by next year we can start reviewing the fee structure that students in various higher institutions of learning are complaining about,” he explained.
He added: “…if any institution comes with a fee structure to TCU we will compare it with the ‘Student Unit Cost’ of the same course in other varsities and if there are differences, we will not allow the university to operate under the high fees.”
On academic performance, universities must have enough academic freedom, he said, adding that to allow more innovation and discoveries, the quality of higher education should be measured by the output of a student from a certain university while at work.
It was therefore pertinent that employers cooperate with TCU by giving information on student performance after securing a job so that the Commission can make a follow-up on the quality of education provided by the particular university, he added.
The quality of education in Tanzanian universities is satisfactory although there are many challenges facing the institutions, he noted.
Lack of enough lecturers in the country’s 48 universities, including constituent colleges, now scrambling for the same lecturers is one of the hurdles. Other institutions are obliged to hire lecturers from abroad, Prof Mchome said.
Most institutions are located in Dar es Salaam, leaving other parts without service, posed yet another challenge, he said adding that his office is no longer providing license to any university planning to locate in Dar es Salaam.
Establishing universities in other regions of the country will facilitate development because students will need food, hostels and other related services, he said.
However, Prof Mchome advised universities to ensure that they join health insurance and have First Aid services at their centres, noting that many of them lacked healthcare for students and workers, which led to health insecurity when emergencies occur.
“In Dar es Salaam where health services are stabilised, there is no need for every university to have a hospital or health centre, but they must get into insurance services or make arrangements with nearby good health service for help in case of emergencies,” he said.