By Kudakwashe Vhenge
First year students studying towards their Bachelor of Science Master’s Degree in the Media and Society Studies at the Midlands State University (MSU) have petitioned the Zimbabwe Council of High Education (ZIMCHE) together with their learning institution over the impromptu dissolve of their program.
ZIMCHE through its Zimbabwe Minimum Bodies of Knowledge and Skills (MBKs) board recently published the cancellation of the MA program suggesting that the institution offer a Masters’ in Journalism and Media Studies instead.
The students raised pertinent concerns including that they were not consulted in the process regardless of the fact that they are the major stake holders at the learning institution who will be affected by the decision.
“We students that are currently enrolled for Master’s degree in the Media and Society Studies department of the Midlands State University (MSU) for the August 2020 intake, are appalled and dismayed by the abrupt unprofessional fashion and conduct displayed by the institution and Zimbabwe Council of High Education (ZIMCHE) to dissolve our esteem programme while we were starting out our studies as per the recently published Zimbabwe Minimum Bodies Of Knowledge And Skills (MBKs).
“It is heart breaking why the institution allowed us to register, enroll and attend lectures, as students for the Masters programme only to scrap but to also change the programme without consulting or informing us the affected stakeholders”, read the petition.
The students also lamented that all their efforts and investments which they were inputting towards the attainment of their Master’s degree will go in vain.
“We were already in transaction to attain the degree by attending the first block lectures and working hard tirelessly to submit our assignments on the Google Classroom platform
“Since enrolment we have invested so much in this program including data, time and financial resources including psychologically being invested. The decision to enroll and study with the MSU was not taken lightly considering the financial implications we have been incurring in this harsh economic environment.
“What boggles the mind is why the Institution and ZIMCHE reached such a decision which reeks of bad faith without engaging or consulting us the stakeholders and we believe it’s in breach of the contract between the institution and us the students.
The students in their petition appealed for the two parties to reverse their pronouncement within 48 hours threatening to take legal route as they strongly felt their rights have been violated
“We humbly appeal to the Institution and ZIMCHE to reverse this controversial decision and the MSc be added in the latest MBKs in the next 48 hours that has negatively impacted our academic journey and livelihoods.
Failure to take our plight into consideration we will be forced to pursue legal action against the institution and the ZIMCHE for this uncouth unprofessional conduct which to date has negative financial and psychological implications on us the students – the most affected stakeholder”.
Efforts to get a comment from ZIMCHE Chief Executive Officer Professor Peter Dzvimbo were fruitless as his mobile number went unanswered.
Meanwhile, lectures from the department have threatened to resign en masse in protest over curriculum changes they say were unilateral and without their consultation.
It emerged that new programme had been heavily weakened and politicized as those that were consulted to give their input before it was introduced were neither experienced nor knowledgeable on media issues.