December 2, 2016 by Staff Reporter
A grouping of students from the Malawi polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi wants the college to be opened despite the fees hike that was proposed.
The grouping, called Polytechnic Concerned Students, through a press release issued Tuesday says that time is of essence to them and that all they want is for the college to be opened for them to complete their degree programs.
“In the spirit of fairness and openness, we would like the general public to know that as young intellectual minds, we are very worried. We are concerned and very disturbed because higher learning is being invaded by people who do not wish us well,” reads the press release.
The body suggests that any political interference from politicians in institutions of higher learning creates political battlegrounds which in the long run affect students.
The press release, which was signed by one of the concerned students, Yohane Sambakusi, blames the Polytechnic Students Union on their stand that the college should not be opened until the fees hike issue is resolved.
“Following these occurrences and analyzing the facts, with fears that the students union no longer represented the interests of the majority of students on 24 November, we the Polytechnic students gathered to release a petition in which we requested students union to give in and accept that students pay hiked fees and engage council on opening the school before the case returns to court on 12 December,” reads the press statement.
The press statement acknowledges that the student’s union body is there to represent the interests of Polytechnic Students but thinks that the union is not adhering to this.
Commenting on the press statement in an interview with the Malawi News Agency (MANA) Wednesday, Polytechnic’s Students Union President, Frank Msiska, said it is unfortunate that the concerned students are complaining that the union is not representing them because they are doing all they can to get the college opened.
“Whatever decision we make is a representation of all Polytechnic Students and so our decisions are balanced. We always consult students before we take any action,” said Msiska.
Msiska added that he is wondering whether the concerned students have really consulted their fellow students before making their decision and that it was a wrong decision for the concerned students to go straight to the media with their concerns.
“The concerned students should have forwarded their concerns to the students union because it is the union’s mandate to represent the students. The concerned students have no legal mandate to go to the media and what they have done raises a lot of questions,” said Msiska.
On the current status of the impasse, Msiska said that there is now a common understanding between the student’s union legal counsel and the University Council legal counsel and that they have agreed to resolve issues outside court.
“Discussions between the students union legal counsel and the University Council legal counsel are underway and we believe the issue will be resolved very soon,” Said Msiska.
The Polytechnic was scheduled to open on 26 September 2016, a date that was postponed to 3 October 2016.
Currently, the opening date remains unknown, following an injunction which the students union obtained stopping the University Council from hiking the fees.