The management and students of the Addis Abeba Science & Technology University, one of the 45 public universities in the country, have been at loggerheads with each other since December 03, 2018.
Tensions surfaced soon after the University’s student union presented a set of grievances to the administration. Students raised issues over job opportunities, post-graduate opportunities, practical education in the laboratories and workshops, the competence of lecturers and internship programs.
The students say that upon entry, they were promised that over 90pc of graduates would get job opportunities in industries and over half would be eligible for master’s degrees.
After discussing the matter with five representatives of the students at the University, the management presented its reply in a letter dated December 04, 2018. The letter reads that the University is trying to improve the quality and atmosphere of the learning process by enrolling high scoring students and hiring teachers with a master’s degree or above.
About benefits to the students, the University said that it had arranged for a half a million Birr a year in support from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and has given 66 master’s degree opportunities to high scoring students that graduated.
Budget allocation for the internship program was calculated seven years ago when the University was established, thus it needs revision by the Ministry of Science & Higher Education, according to the administration’s letter.
Only a few students at the university were satisfied with the response though, leading to only first and fifth year students returning to classes by the end of this week.
The measures forwarded by the university that address post-graduate education opportunities, internship programs and practical education are not satisfactory, according to representatives of the students.
Given that tensions have continued, there has been a police presence at the university since last week, which has not been welcomed by the students.
“We don’t accept the presence of the police on campus, because we do not have political demands,” said a student that talked to Fortuneon the condition of anonymity.
The management also set December 10, 2018, as a deadline for starting classes and prepared a new student ID for those willing to sign that they will take full responsibility for the measures the university takes if found in an unsanctioned demonstration.
While some students believe that it is better to start classes promptly, others suggest that the new IDs were introduced to intimidate and divide them.
The university, which offers eight degree programs – focuses on engineering and has linkages with 70 industrial firms – is not the only institution where student grievances have been raised. Students at the Adama Science & Technology University are grappling with similar issues.
Yakob Arsamo (Prof.), a lecturer and researcher in conflict resolution for more than a decade at Addis Abeba University, believes that the core problem is institutional capacity.
“Centre of excellence is mostly established in first generation universities that have long reputations,” he said. “Such promises, made by the University, are unrealistic and should be responded to with the utmost care.”
The management has since issued an ultimatum, declaring that food and dormitory services will not be provided to students without the new ID after December 17, 2018.
Nurelegn Tefera (PhD), president of the University, declined to give an interview after Fortuneapproached him by phone.