As universities re-open on Monday, most students are in dilemma over the high cost of on- and off-campus accommodation.
Whilst on-campus accommodation is beyond the reach of most students, off-campus homes are charging in foreign currency, mostly United States dollars.
For example, on-campus accommodation at Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) is $3 000 (without meals) whilst off-campus accommodation averages US$165 per semester.
Speaking to Sunday Mail Online, CUT student Ms Blessing Maramwidze said, “If I add accommodation and university fees, that is about four times the income of my parents.
“The goal is to be educated and probably later on give back to our parents but the situation is tough. I predict more university drop-outs this semester,” said Ms Maramwidze.
While Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019 scrapped the multi-currency system and replaced it with a mono currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, most landlords who have houses near universities are demanding United Stated dollars for one to get accommodation.
A parent who spoke on conditions on anonymity said it is unfair for landlords to demand US dollars, contrary to what the Government ordered.
“Most landlords are charging US$50 (per head) in areas closest to the campus while a few are charging US$40, which is a lot of money if one uses the parallel market rate. This is on top of paying $5 700 tuition fees,” she said.
“I think universities should enter into partnerships with house owners and agree on reasonable amounts.
“Since Government introduced mono currency, where do we get the forex to pay rentals for our university children when we are being paid in local currency?” she queried.
She also lamented that parents have to buy groceries for their children after forking out a lot of money on fees and accommodation.
Another student said that staying on-campus has the added advantage of security, power back-up in times of power cuts, constant water supply as well as Wi-Fi coverage “but it is unbearable for one to buy two plates of sadza every day, with a plate ranging from $15 to $30 for a standard meal”.
A student at Midlands State University (MSU) said it is cheaper to stay off-campus and buy basic commodities and cook than stay on campus where one buys food daily.
“The $30 which one uses to buy a plate of food, I would rather stay off-campus as that same amount can buy 2kg of rice,” said Joyce Mahala.
“But then the struggle is having to find the US dollars to pay the accommodation,” she added.