Makerere University runs out of cash to feed gov’t students

Makerere University does not have money for food and accommodation allowances for the more than 10,000 government-sponsored students next academic year.

The initial allocation of Shs 3.35 billion was reportedly diverted, on the advice of the government to cover other priority areas in the running of the university. A report by the finance, planning, administration and investment committee of the university council, shows that the re-allocations were in compliance with recommendations of the education and social services committee of parliament for a diversion of funds towards unfunded priorities.

The report shows that the university received a communication dated June 18, 2019, requiring management to adjust the 2019/20 financial year budget in favour of a plan to procure equipment for the Dental School, which was facing pressure not to admit students under the prevalent conditions. Other unfunded priorities included the renovation of toilets in halls of residence and equipping the school library.

The university identified food and accommodation allowances as a lesser priority compared to the other unfunded areas. In the changes, Shs 285 million was diverted from the allowances vote and allocated to the Dental School. Another Shs 1. 8 billion was allocated towards equipping the university library while Shs 1.5 billion was allocated to the renovation of toilets in the halls of residence.

Makerere has a total of 10,091 government-sponsored students. Of these, 4, 089 students, who reside outside the university premises, receive a living out allowance at a rate of Shs 432,750 per student per semester.

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The university spends approximately Shs 7.19 billion on student food and about Shs 4.76 billion on living out allowances making a total of Shs 11.96 billion on welfare for government students.

Although corroborated information suggests a Shs 3.36 billion cut and reallocation of the funds to the selected priority areas, the university’s 1st deputy vice-chancellor for academics professor Umar Kakumba insisted that this money was not touched.

“Student living out allowance is money sent by government under the vote called non-wage. We submit the budget and then that money is put into the budget. That money is completely different. This was another vote which has a number of items including teaching materials. Teaching materials can be reagents, they can be stationary, they can be specimen, the equipment. It has nothing to do with the students allocation.” Kakumba said.

Pius Mbeera, the Makerere University Government Students Association (Mugosa) president said the student’s body was still unaware of the development.

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