Minister of Higher Education Nkandu Luo has implored management at the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University to be innovative and come up with ways of paying workers rather than wholly rely on Government for grants. Professor Luo said grants merely supplement the institutions’ operational costs.
She said this in a ministerial statement on Thursday. Prof Luo clarified that the payment of salaries for public university lecturers falls in the ambit of their respective councils through their management teams. “Through these sources of financing, the managements of public universities are supposed to ensure that they manage the affairs of the institutions without disruptions to the learning calendar,” Prof Luo said.
She said her ministry has embarked on a programme to restructure the University of Zambia into university colleges. “We want to streamline the operations of the university, hive of unproductive business ventures that continue to be a burden on the resource envelope.
“We will also conduct staff audit to ensure a productive workforce. We will also work on issues of accountability at the institution,” Prof Luo said.
Prof Luo said where institutions are managed properly, and with sources of income in place, it is expected that their operations and learning should not be subjected to any form of disruptions by a slight delay in any revenue streams.
“Universities around the sub-region and on a global scale are on a trajectory of being leaders in running self-sustaining projects through research, consultancy and business portfolio. The opposite seems to be the case with some of our public universities in Zambia,” Prof Luo said.
She said in addition, the management of the meagre resources being generated by the universities is not being prudently applied.
Prof Luo said comparatively, the fee structures for a number of public and private universities in the country are much lower than at UNZA and CBU, but despite the apparent difference, private universities have remained afloat in meeting their obligations to the extent of even expanding within the same user fees.
“This [private university expansion] is done with less infrastructure support and no government grant. The question begging an answer is what then is the biggest challenge that our public universities are facing?” she asked. The professor said public universities offer conditions of service that are unsustainable and extravagant without consideration of an institution’s ability to pay and expect that the grants will meet the burden.