Doreen, a former student at Uganda Christian University (UCU) was one of the beneficiaries of the work and study programme at the institution. “My family used to pay my tuition, and therefore, I had never paid a lot of attention to the work and study programme offered by the university. Unfortunately in the second semester of first year, my family faced financial constraints that I had to take a loan from a relative to pay that semester’s tuition,” she narrates.
Though she tried working during her holidays, it remained impossible for her to raise all the tuition she needed. Then a thought crossed her mind. “I consulted with my classmates and friends about the Work and Study programme, how I would benefit – if I could, and how to enroll. Many of them did not know it even existed, so I went to the university during holidays and asked. I was told to apply, which I did and after an interview and filling a few documents, I was accepted on the programme,” she says.
“Personally, this was a lifesaver because I was totally hopeless. We were deployed in the various departments working under supervisors who were to ensure that everyone does work allocated to them. I was deployed in the library – to shelve books; keep the place organised and tidy. Working only two hours a day, this was doable. It never affected my class time, the only challenge was some of my friends and the other students who knew me,” Doreen narrates.
Doreen was on the programme for the next two semesters after which, her family resumed paying her tuition.
Escapes dead year
However, she is not the only student who has benefited from such an arrangement. Barnabus, another former student at UCU also applied for the programme after he lost his job in his first semester of the final year at university. “I had two options; to either ask for a dead year or, find another job soon – which was going to be impossible. The work and study programme became my last and only resort,” he says, adding that in comparison to his last job, this was really easy to do. “I worked around the dinning to clean up after lunch time – and I had no shame doing it. I still had enough time to go for my classes, and to take up another job in the evening to support myself,” he adds.
After one semester, Barnabas stopped working for the university because he had found a job that needed much of his time. He, however, points out that, “Often, students do not know of the availability of such life-saving opportunities that universities offer. But still, for one to be helped you have to speak out your financial challenges – perhaps; there can be help for you.”
How it works
At Uganda Christian University, students are hired to work in different non-teaching departments and in turn, the student benefits by having their tuition paid by the university. It is a programme that students of UCU can apply for. It was specifically designed to help students who are not doing well in terms of clearing their tuition and so, the money is not given to them in cash form but rather, it is credited on their fees accounts.
Fortunately, the programme runs on a semester basis, so every semester, we have new students enrolling, while others leave. For example, if you have been on the programme but your financial situation improves the next semester, you can withdraw from the programme.
Furthermore, when students apply, the university has a panel that vets them to choose those that qualify.
Striking a balance
To ensure their classes are not affected, every student is supposed to work two hours a day for five working days. Some of the work includes; putting the lecture rooms in order before classes begin, clearing chairs off the compound, shelving books in the library, cleaning offices, helping out in the dining room, serving student’s food among others.
At Bugema Adventist University as Rachel Kayondo, the Work Programme coordinator, explains, “The programme targets needy students. The policy is that someone must be admitted, registered at the university, and has paid at least 50 per cent of the tuition.”
Kayondo, however, notes that all the available work is manual, such as working on the farm, cleaning around the university and in lecture rooms. “Because the university has a busy schedule, the student has got to achieve firstly; class requirements such as preparing for class presentations, research, course works, and the exams. Students therefore, work for not more than five hours a day for six days in a week,” she says.
To further facilitate learning, the students create their own convenient time in which to execute their work. “The rewards are calculated hourly, so if the student is hardworking and committed, they can be able to raise a good amount of money – which is deposited on their tuition accounts,” she adds.
Though the programme was designed for students in need of help, some students request to join, just for purposes of getting experience and skills –especially at the farm, Kayondo adds.
How it works
At Bugema. The students create their own convenient time in which to execute the work allocated to them. The rewards are calculated hourly, so if the student is hardworking and committed, they can be able to raise a good amount of money – which is deposited on their tuition accounts. Students work for not more than five hours a day for six days in a week.
At UCU. Every student on the programme is supposed to work two hours a day for five working days. The students can do their work in intervals of 30 minutes – until they cover the two working hours, or intervals of one hour, or the whole two hours at once.