• Hard financial times have forced some institutions to fire some staff, reduce luxuries.
• University education no longer 'special', students should aim to compete with world-class institutions.
As a university student, I felt infallible, on top of the world. Life too was rosy, as our top-notch accommodation with top of the range meals were provided for. The government topped up our grandiose by giving up stipends, which we wasted on booze, parties and unnecessary gadgets.
It was a life we felt entitled to and demanded whenever there was a delay. We were privileged, pampered as the government struggled to develop its manpower for the future.
That was then. Amidst the IMF imposed structural adjustment and globalisation of the ‘90s, universities lost their glory under stringent austerity measures. Funding was heavily reduced, lowering standards and even quality of education, as lecturers migrated for greener pastures.
Whereas universities initially invested in accommodation and catering, the little revenue they raised drastically shifted to cushion their eroded strength in learning and research, their core mandate. From free university education, parents are now required to cost-share, by topping up fee payment.
However, our students are still victims of the past, expecting free education at the university level. How can the university meet its strenuous demands and expectations without money?
The university must pay vendors for consumables, sometimes upfront. With a saturated workforce and the sprouting of several other universities, the government is no longer at pains even if one university is closed for a year.
Learning and life will continue elsewhere while those boggled up with strikes will experience delays in completion and entry to the harsh job market. Students must look outward and compete with great universities of the world, with no strikes and interruptions.