University students across the East African region will, from January next year, begin paying the same amount of tuition fees, in the first step towards the actualisation of the newly created East African Common Higher Education Area.
While the institutions may charge different amounts for different programs, students from any country in the region will pay the same amount as domestic students in any of the six countries that form the common area – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and the newest East African community member, South Sudan.
This move is in line with the framework for implementation of the Common Higher Education Area agreed upon by the six member countries of the EAC, at a conference held July in Zanzibar, Tanzania. This came two months after heads of states from the region ratified the decision to create the EACHEA, and mandated the Inter-University Council of East Africa to implement it.
“The harmonised fees structure will be implemented in both public and private universities by the end of the year” The harmonisation of fees is just one among many steps to be taken.
Benedict Mtasiwa, IUCEA chief principal officer for exchange programs, said the decision was expected to facilitate and increase student mobility across the region.
“The harmonised fees structure will be implemented in both public and private universities by the end of the year”, he said in a statement.
This, he added, will end the current practice where students pay as much as 30% more in fees whenever they enrol in universities in any of the partner countries outside of their home country.
According to another IUCEA official, the operationalisation of the EACHEA was expected to be a lengthy process, and the harmonisation of fees is just one among many steps to be taken.
“Operationalisation is on course, mobility of academic staff and students are already happening, mutual recognition of qualifications is already taking place for both academic and professional qualifications”, he told The PIE News.
After nearly two years of waiting, the EAC region was declared a Common Higher Education Area by heads of the state in May, and the IUCEA has come up with a six point tentative work plan and strategy.