Zinasu flags State Universities Statuses Bill

THE Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) has expressed concern over the Amendment to State Universities Statuses Bill, saying the proposed law was silent on academic freedom.

The Bill seeks to amend 13 University Acts to align them to the Constitution.

Zinasu secretary for research Takudzwa Raynolds Mukono told NewsDay that students were not happy that the Bill provides for the appointment of a bursar and librarian by the university council with the approval of the Higher and Tertiary Education minister, but was silent on academic freedom.

“The fact that the Bill actually reduces the autonomy of universities by having the government through the minister and chancellor (President) to make appointments and approvals on behalf of the institutions makes it unruly.

“The lack of clauses that speak on academic freedom in the whole Bill gives us reason to denounce it as students.  University staff members need to be free and protected from external influence and the universities should have their own autonomy,” Mukono said.

He said the Bill also proposed reduce the size of university councils to at least 10, which is welcome as it will enable the council to be more efficient.

“However, our discontent is on the number of student’s representatives who sit in the council. Students being the major stakeholders should have a reasonable number of representatives in the council.  At least, we can have the students’ union president and the secretary-general, or gender secretary to sit in the council to articulate student issues as they are a major stakeholder,” he said.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education is currently visiting different State universities around the country to gather public views on the Bill.

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