KAMPALA: The Ministry of Finance has directed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to begin receiving tuition for all government-owned universities across the country, in a bid to curb financial fraud that is so rampant in the institutions.
Jim Mugunga, the ministry’s spokesperson, says the new system will help government establish how much money is collected every academic year and the number of students each university has. He said that the ministry realised that some tuition collected in public universities is misused hence deciding to collect the fees using a single account by URA.
“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 says.
Mugunga added that the new move will check the problem of ghost students, bureaucracy and costs in state-owned universities.
“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. Once we get to know how much each institution is collecting, we shall facilitate timely release of money back to the universities to take care of students, staff and institutional support,” he says.
Mugunga also clarified that tuition is government revenue and that the money does not belong to universities as many people may think.
“Tuition is actually government revenue and not money that belongs to universities. Historically, when revenue collection was not streamlined, the ministry had allowed institutions to collect on its behalf as we built internal capacities and get most institutions networked and strengthened. URA is, therefore, ready and the most suitable agency to handle this task,” he says.
While commenting about the new policy, the university’s Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe has noted that it will be a great relief for the administration, but continues to wonder how URA will handle fees defaulters. He added that he is not aware when the policy will begin.
“We will be relieved if URA takes over fees collections. But we do not know how they will do this and who will be responsible for defaulting students. We have managed them because we know their academic status and we use that to ensure they pay,” Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor by telephone yesterday. We are ready to cooperate but no one has approached as about this new system and we do not know when it starts,” says Nawangwe.
The new policy comes a few weeks after the Makerere University management officials appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (of Parliament) where they were probed over failure to collect tuition fees from more than 80 students, most of whom graduated already. The committee also wanted answers from the Makerere officials regarding rent collected from tenants in the university premises.