Mbabane: The Eswatini Higher Education Council (ESHEC) says they have heard the public outcry over the ever increasing exorbitant application fees charged by the local tertiary institutions and an investigation will be carried out.
This was revealed by ESHEC’s Executive Director Mboni Dlamini during an exclusive telephonic interview with Independent News. Dlamini said the council was much concerned with this price gouging by the local colleges and universities during the application processes. Dlamini said the different tertiary institutions charge their own different fees that are not regulated, which is something the council is working on.
This comes after the public has raised their concerns over the ever increasing fees charged by local institutions when students are applying for admission.
Noticeably, this year, 2021, the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) charged E530 per applicant as an application fee. For 1000 applications, UNESWA makes E530 000 and this obviously means the institutions rakes in millions of Emalangeni through applications. The learning institution receives over 4000 applications per year and that translates to E2.6 million per year through this stream.
It can also be noted that other institutions including Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT), Ngwane Teacher’s Training College who were charging E50 on the previous years, they both increased their application fees to E100 this year.
These fees comes with a clause of ‘non-refundable’ even if the student end up not being accepted to study in that particular institution and this is much of a concern because the institutions do not accept all the students who have applied. And commonly, the number of students who end up being accepted is much lower than those who are turned down.
Dlamini said the duty of the council is to remove barriers at tertiary institutions which hinder students from getting opportunities to go and pursue their studies.
He said this can be one obstacle and the council will conduct a study which might see this obstacle removed. He said the council’s investigation will be conducted with the purpose of finding out what are this fees for, why do they keep on increasing, are they necessary and what is attributing to their increase.
He said the council’s main interest is to see all emaSwati students getting equal opportunities regardless of their backgrounds.
Dlamini said the council was much concerned with this, more especially with the government sponsored institutions because some get subventions from the government and some get the tuition fees paid by the government as well. He said therefore this fees might be unreasonable and the council will get to the bottom of it.
He said once the council has completed the study/investigation will come out with a sustainable solution to this predicament. He said one of the possible solution the council might take will be standardizing this application fees or removing them.
When sought for comment, one of UNESWA’s Student Representative Council (SRC) member who elected to comment on condition of anonymity said they were also concerned about this fees as it will make it difficult for aspiring students to come to study at the university.
This SRC member disclosed that the university was making a lot of money through this application processes. He said usually the university hands out over 4 000 application forms which means the institution will possibly rack in over E2 million only through the applications.