Protests, teargas as UoN medical students oppose proposed fee increment
For a Kenyan student intending to successfully pursue Orthopaedic surgery and become a specialist of repute, they must cough out Sh2.2 million more, a 69 per cent increment from the previous fees of Sh1.2 million.
The University of Nairobi, Kenya’s premier public institution of higher learning has increased these fees threefold to Sh3.4 million for Postgraduate students pursuing a masters in Orthopaedic surgery from the previous fees of Sh1.2 million.
This resulted in Wednesday’s confrontations between the students and police leading to a four-hour siege at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where the security forces in anti-riot gear forced them back.
Led by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General, Davji Bhimji the students protested the fees increment. They said it was an arbitrary decision; not consultative and termed it unreasonable.
“Today there is going to be a demonstration of KMPDU and its members. This demonstration has been brought about by the failure of the University that has decided to increase the fees threefold without consultation with stakeholders,” Bhimji said yesterday before police dispersed the rioting Medical students from UON’s School of Medicine located at KNH.
Bhimji added; “UoN had decided to triple the fees for medical students. Initially, the fees that were Sh1 million have been tripled to Sh3 million.”
He termed the decision arbitrary and goes against the University Charter which requires that all stakeholders are involved.
‘And while this is happening, the Ministry which is in charge of training and policy has not come to assist the situation, instead, they are celebrating the increment since that gives them the opportunity to take more billions of shillings to Cuba in order to import manpower at the expense of our own,” the KMPDU boss said.
He chanted with the students and called for the resignation of vice-chancellor Prof. Kiama Gitahi.
“We have said as the union that the fees must fall for all students. Fees must fall for parents so that every Kenyan can get quality service delivery from the specialists,” he added.
Bhimji noted that the fees paid at the UoN is three times more than the normal rates paid by students taking similar courses in other countries.
At the same time, he said that the doctors currently working at KNH and doubling up as postgraduate students had been subjected to more than slavery, yet their fees have not been paid by the MoH.
“But sadly, while this is happening, the ministry is shipping out billions of shillings to import Cubans to come to the country. We are fighting to ensure that these doctors are employed and do the postgraduate studies, not to be forever suffering and not treating Kenyans as required in the Kenyan law,” he said.
Bhimji said that since nobody was consulted by the University when increasing the fees, the Union was treating this matter as a human rights issue and has procedurally gone to court to file a case.
Kipkemoi Elvis, the Chairman College of Health Sciences said on several occasions the students had raised the matter with the University management including on May 27 when they wrote a letter that has not been responded to.
“We have raised several inquiries questioning the fee increment, but we didn't get a response. This issue of raising fees is uncouth and unwarranted and has to be reconsidered.
"As an undergraduate student I am worried when the postgraduate students' fees are tripled, most of them sponsor themselves. Paid Sh150, 000, how many years will I save to be able to pay for my postgraduate?” he posed.
And immediately they finished addressing the media as they started to protest along the roads from KNH through Upperhill to present a petition at Afya House, chaos erupted as the police forced them back to the hospital grounds and to their College.