By Masline Mavudzi
The introduction of two intakes by the University of Zimbabwe will help reduce the waiting period that students experience before they start lectures at the university, an official has said.
The university recently announced that it would have two intakes this year for first year students, the first in February and the second in August.
UZ director of information and public relations Mr Daniel Chihombori on Thursday justified the two intakes, saying they would reduce the waiting period for students.
“Traditionally, the university’s academic year has been starting in August, yet students get their results in February,” he said.
“By enrolling students in August that means students had to wait, and during that period these people have nothing to do, so the issue is motivated more by reducing this waiting period.
“The current statistics show that A-Level students who wrote examinations last year were 41 663 and from that 28 510 passed to the extent that they actually qualify for university.
“Our intervention now in introducing two intakes means we are now dealing with the demand.”
Mr Chihombori said the university was fulfilling its mandate to promote equity and improve access to higher education.
“Let me be clear that it is not a competition with other universities, but rather we feel universities should complement each other in accommodating these students, a role all institutions should play,” he said.
Mr Chihombori said they would admit 3 000 students for the first intake.
“We actually wish we could do more to ensure that these students get the higher level of education,” he said.
“We have a building that has a sitting capacity of 2 000 students and is supposed to be functioning by February 22 and the whole building is for lecture rooms.
“Water woes have been dealt with by digging boreholes that hold five million litres of water which has been tested safe to drink.”
Mr Chihombori said they were working to ensure that accommodation crisis at the university was solved.
“We have teamed up with local businesses and these are boarding houses and hotels, some are even going to provide transport to and from the institution,” he said. “We are approaching this from a number of fronts, it is something we are really working on.”
But veteran educationist Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga said it was clear that the institution was bracing itself for competition.
“If it is the issue of demand from the students I think that should be the concern of the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development to see the number of universities the country needs,” he said.
Another educationist Dr Peter Kwaira said two intakes for UZ were justifiable.
“In any case, the reason justifies the brand of the university that is valuable to candidates,” he said. “We are overwhelmed by the numbers that want to enrol, so one intake really limits the institution.”
Some educationists interviewed said two intakes would create challenges to the university’s capacity in terms of infrastructure, flexibility on the part of those who teach and amenities.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union has since expressed displeasure at the decision, saying pressure on scarce facilities at the university would increase. The Herald