The recent increase in university fees on Wednesday sparked an outcry among legislators in the National Assembly who said the hike would make tertiary education unaffordable to many.
The university fees were increased to about $5 000 for tuition only before factoring in ancillary costs such as accommodation.
Bikita East legislator Johnson Madhuku asked Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Professor Amon Murwira to explain why the government allowed institutions to raise the fees astronomically while on the other hand claiming to have frozen educational costs.
Chimanimani West legislator Lynette Karenyi said the increased fees meant that students whose parents earned little such as domestic workers would drop out.
Buhera West legislator Joseph Chinotimba said there was need to reconcile the earnings of workers of Zimbabwe with the university fee increases.
But Prof Murwira defended the increases, saying it would ensure the smooth running of universities.
“We have been able to agree on the level of fees that are minimal to make the university sector be able to run in terms of access to quality education. For humanities we have put tuition fees as agreed through the processes at $3 500, engineering and sciences at $4 000 and life sciences at $5 000,” he said.
“We came up with this to make sure that the minimum which is needed to make the universities run is met,” he added.
Prof Murwira said the government had revived student loans by setting aside $100 million to assist students who could not afford to pay university fees.
“We have introduced a government backed loan facility to increase access. We also have a private loan scheme which is offered by other banks,” he said, adding that 25 000 students had already applied to access the facility.