Management of student conflicts in the context of the higher education cost-sharing policy in Tanzania

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Dar es Salaam
Tanzania re-introduced the cost-sharing policy in higher education in the early 1990s. This period was characterized by the recurrence of student conflicts that started at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) and spread to other public universities, which made the university community and the public at unease. This situation inspired the researcher to find out what actually happened at the institutions serving students that caused such disharmony relationships, while implementing complementary roles and responsibilities.Few studies have been conducted to examine the characterisation of these conflicts. Using a case study design, this study has systematically examined the pattern and causes of student conflicts during the re-introduction of the cost-sharing era, and how these conflicts were managed. Similarly, it proposed strategies for improving conflict management in future using the developed model. The findings showed that the conflicts involved students versus university management on the one hand, and students and Government and/or its agencies on the other. The study has revealed several factors that led to student conflicts, which have been grouped into seven categories, namely; ideological as students were dissatisfaction of the cost-sharing policy, welfare issues, ineffective governance, students’ politics and political interference in the running of the university affairs. Others were incompatible goals and students’ consciousness. The major finding of this study is that the main factor attributable to student conflicts in Tanzania during the cost-sharing phase is the ineffective coordination of parties involved in the management of student admission and loans disbursement processes. This started with the weaknesses observed from policy formulation into implementation. Consequently, the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) and universities would admit students without regard to the capacity of the students’ loans board to advance loans to admitted students, while every admitted student expects to receive a loan from the Government. Furthermore, the findings revealed that though many parties were involved in student conflicts, only the UDSM management and students sought to resolve them. As a result, the conflict resolution process has involved ad-hoc means, including the use of force, which only results in a temporary resolution of conflicts instead of managing them, hence the recurrence of student conflicts during the period of study. Essentially, therefore, the student conflicts at the UDSM, as perhaps in other higher education institutions in Tanzania, are centred on the ineffectiveness of the management of the policy including student loans system.In light of the findings of this study it is recommended, among others, that there is a need to revisit higher education funding in Tanzania with a view to securing reliable and broaden sources of financing. Furthermore, there is a need to establish a policy on the management of student conflicts in higher education. There is also a need to conduct further research to examine the cost of ineffective conflict management, which often leads to university closure. As a contribution of knowledge, this study captured qualitatively students’ experience of how implementation of the policy has created division and discontent. The study has developed a home-grown proactive model on effective management of student conflicts involving all key stakeholders (students, faculty, management, government and its agencies – HESLB and TCU).
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF LB2340.4.T34S52)
Education, Higher, Finance, Conflict management, College students, Tanzania
Shao, E. N (2014) Management of student conflicts in the context of the higher education cost-sharing policy in Tanzania, Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.