Makerere University students have questioned a move by the institution to pay their allowances through mobile money accounts rather than the bank accounts.
Government sponsored students who reside outside the main campus receive at least Shs 708,750 per student every semester as a living-out allowance to cover the cost of their accommodation and meals.
Out of this, Shs 127,500 is calculated for an individual students rent in four months, Shs 21,250 for water and electricity, Shs 84,000 for transport at unit cost of Shs 1,000 for 84 days (excluding weekends) and Shs 476,000 as food allowance for 119 days at a rate of Shs 4,000 per student per day.
This money has previously been paid through the banks. But now the students have up to today, Tuesday February 13, 2018, to submit their mobile money registered phone numbers, to enable the university process the allowances for the ongoing semester, a statement issued by Cyprian Kabagambe, the university dean of students indicates.
According to Kabagambe, the policy of payment of the students' allowances has been changed from using bank accounts to e-wallet mobile effective this semester. However several students that URN spoke to said the program was abruptly communicated with some citing lack of registered mobile money lines.
Jackson Ssewanyana, a 2nd year Journalism and Communication student said this arrangement will make them incur more transactional costs using mobile money.
Hastings Muhumuza, a first-year student of Bachelor Science with Education said the delay in payment of his living out allowances had already impacted on him.
"First of all am not happy with this payment. Secondly, we actually receive it when it is too late…like last semester we received it when we were actually about to be chased out of hostels by the landlords," he says.
Mariam Nampina, another student told URN that her mobile money line was in her parents' names which could not be accepted. She says she has now to purchase another line for fresh registration before the Tuesday deadline.
"When I went to the warden to register, she told me that I had to make sure that my mobile money line is in my names. Now I have to go back and buy a new line and register for the allowance. I have nothing to do...I'm not welcoming the idea at all because first am scared going to the mobile money agent to withdraw such a large amount of money, someone might steal it from me," she said.
Makerere University spends Shs 1.86 billion on students living-out allowances per semester. But the 2016 audit carried out the Abel Rwendeire Committee noted that the rate of students' welfare had remained constant for more than three years and recommended a review to increase of these allowances.