Kenyan police tear gas protesting university students

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Kenyan police officer.
Kenyan police officer.
Simon Maina

Kenyan riot police on Wednesday fired tear gas at students protesting a decision by a top university to hike tuition fees.

Clashes erupted when medical students from the University of Nairobi blocked roads in the capital and pelted motorists with stones.

Police responded with tear gas and some students were arrested but it was not immediately clear how many.

"It is unfair to just wake up one morning and decide you are increasing fees," said one student, who identified himself as Jamleck.

The demonstration was staged in response to a decision by the university to push up tuition fees, including doubling the cost of some postgraduate courses, to meet a cash deficit after a shortfall in student enrolment.

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Students already complain that tuition fees are prohibitively expensive in the East African nation and can exclude poorer students from higher education.

"Is that not madness?" said medical student Martin Ndung'u. "In this time of Covid, when the economy is battered, where do we get the money from?"

The university has defended the increases, saying they were approved a long time ago and would not affect the current students.

An official at the university's vice-chancellor's office said a statement on the protests would be issued "in due course."

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