Public universities fail to collect Shs50 billion student fees

Public universities failed to collect over Shs50 billion from students as school fees during the Financial Year 2020/2021.

This detail is contained in the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) (Central) on the education sector that was on Thursday, January 19 2023 tabled, debated, and adopted by the House during plenary.

The committee report responds to the red flags raised by the Auditor General’s report for the financial year.

Presented by the chairperson, Hon. Medard Sseggona, the report shows how five public universities failed to collect Shs52.6 billion from students which affected the smooth running of the education centers.

This was attributed to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which did not allow the institutions to collect fees and other payables, while many students were forced to drop out.

The committee in their recommendation urged the affected universities to institute measures to collect all outstanding receivables (fees) from the students and subsequently, inform parliament of the steps taken in collecting the fees in the next six months.

“The committee notes the challenges with which public universities and schools have had to operate during COVID-19 pandemic. However, the increase in the receivables indicates a low recovery rate of outstanding student school fees, and there is a possibility of failing to recover all the amounts due,” Hon Sseggona said. He added that whereas COVID-19 has since been managed and the environment has changed to allow possible collection efforts, there is no evidence that universities are making progress.

AUDIO: Hon. Medard Sseggona

The report of the Auditor General revealed that Makerere University Business School (MUBS) had accumulated receivables to a tune of Shs21.7 billion, while Kyambogo University failed to collect Shs23.2 billion in school fees. Mbarara University Science and Technology (MUST) and Uganda Institute of Information and Communication Technology (UICT) failed to collect Shs4.2 billion and Shs384 million respectively, while Kabale University failed to collect Shs3.1 billion.

The House expressed concerns over the recurring challenges facing the education sector that among others include long outstanding payables, mischarges, and off-budget financing.

“We shall make sure we get a Treasury Memorandum from the finance ministry on the actions taken on issues raised [by the committee]. There are some recurrent issues such as issues of payroll, mischarges, and receivables that should not exist in our education sector as of now. We need to become strict to ensure that they are resolved,” Speaker Anita Among said.

Kalungu West County MP, Hon. Joseph Ssewungu, tasked the line ministries and agencies to take seriously the recommendations of the committee and implement them thoroughly.