Uganda: MPs propose increased allowances to university students

Makerere University Graduands
The education committee of parliament has suggested increase of allowances to government sponsored university students. Courtesy Photo.

The education committee of parliament has recommended an increment in allowances to government sponsored university students. They argue that the current package is not enough to sustain students given inflation rates that have affected the cost of living.

The committee is suggesting a meal allowance of 6,000 Shillings per day and an allocation of 650,000 Shillings to cover the cost of accommodation. Currently, government provides 4,000 Shillings a day for meals and 220,000 Shillings for a semester’s accommodation to students residing out of the halls of residence. The suggestion is in line with proposals made by guild leaders from public universities.

Otuke County MP Julius Acon Bua described the current provision as an injustice to the students because they are subjected to untold suffering even after working so hard to attain government sponsorship.

“In reality you cannot get three meals a day at 4000 Shillings, Acon says.

Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality MP Gordon Arinda noted that students are paying much more in rent than the government provision.

He added that higher education is a very big priority for the nation that government should not neglect.

Vincent Masendi, a second year Student of Agriculture and Rural innovations at Makerere University says he pays 500, 000 Shillings for accommodation yet government only pays 220, 000 Shillings for his accommodation.

Other students that our reporter spoke to earlier today said that some parents relax when they have their children given government sponsorship. They say parents do not bother to give them upkeep leaving students to suffer with the meager living out allowances provided by government.

Government sponsors 12,000 students at its 9 public universities currently. At Makerere alone, government sponsors 6,296 students. The university spends 6 billion shillings only on meals every academic year and 1.8billion Shilling allowances for the nonresidents.

The cost of feeding students at Makerere University has been increasing. Earlier in January this year, Makerere University waived fees for utilities from the catering companies when they approached the university management to increase the amount of money for feeding students.