An online registration system installed by Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) has helped reduce college application fees from about US$709 to US$40, according to the World Bank.
Most of the savings are expenses reduced as a result of decreased movement to the physical universities with students in Northern Tanzania’s regions such as Mara said to have used as much as US$350 in travel costs. Other expenses include accommodation and overhead costs incurred during the travel.
The system, which was funded by the International Development Fund, has also integrated courses available in various institutions as a result reducing time wastage — as students no longer need to move from one university to the other only to find their desired programmes are not offered as used to be the case.
“People had to incur those costs even when they were not sure whether the program was available at a particular university. They were also not sure about the program requirements because there was no reference point where you could quickly check. Each university operated on its own,” said TCU executive secretary Prof. Sifuni Mchome.
This he says has led to girls missing university positions as parents are reluctant to let them travel far-off and instead asking them to seek vacancies in nearby institutions.
The system, Mchome says, has helped address quality and equity in the country’s higher education system.
The World Bank estimated, between the year 2011 and 2012, that about US$24 million was saved from over 36,000 students living in mainland Tanzania and who would have been necessitated to travel thanks to increased access of the Internet.
“Now we have people applying through CAS from remote parts of the country without having to travel. This is very important to the growth of higher education in Tanzania and we have to keep on improving so that more people are taken into our higher education system,” Mchome explained.
The next step for the government will be to increase the numbers of students moving from secondary schools to universities with the country having an enrolment ratio of just 2.5 percent.