Government through the Ministry of Finance has directed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to start collecting tuition fees from all government universities in the country.
The directive comes a few days after Makerere University management officials appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and were probed on why they failed to collect tuition fees from more than 80 students many of whom had already graduated and rent from several tenants in the university premises.
Jim Mugunga, the Finance ministry Spokesperson says the new system is intended to establish how many students each university has and how much money they collect each academic year.
He said the ministry realised that some tuition revenue in some public universities is abused and decided on collecting the fees using a single account by URA to minimise misuse.
“We realised that there was abuse of funds in our institutions of learning because some of the tuition is being collected but not used. Some tuition is stolen while some money just disappears. So, let URA collect this money, let this money come as government revenue and let it be budgeted for and appropriated,” Mugunga told Daily Monitor on Monday.
“The current system is bureaucratic and keeps government unaware of tuition as a revenue that flows into the institutions. It also complicates the accountability process and duplicates bank costs of running related accounts.The strategy will also streamline accountability, remove duplicity and minimise costs that have impeded revenue mobilization.”
Mugunga further said that once they get to know how much each institution collects; they shall facilitate timely release of money back to the universities to take care of students, staff and institutional support.
Universities speak out:
With the new system, the Makerere Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe questioned how the URA will deal with fees defaulters. He however revealed that once the tax body takes over the tuition fees collection, they (university) will be relieved.
Bruhan Byaruhanga, a member of Kyambogo University Council, noted that they were waiting to see how URA will execute the tuition collection because each university collects different amounts of fees.
Jerry Bagaya, the academic registrar of Gulu University said, “Once we understand the modalities of how they are going to collect the tuition, we shall appreciate on whether it will help us or not.”