THE Copperbelt University Students Union has asked the government to urgently address the issue of hiked tuition and accommodation fees at public institutions such as the Copperbelt University and the University of Zambia.

In a statement, COBUSU president Thompson Luzendi observed that the continued increase in fees at higher institutions of learning seemed to suggest that education in Zambia was becoming a preserve of the rich.

"The Copperbelt University is a public university and is supposed to be accessible to all Zambians, whether rich or poor. Tuition and accommodation fees at CBU have doubled in a period of three years," he stated.

"In 2009, tuition fees were over K9 million but currently the fees for the 2012 academic year are at over K18 million and in the same vein accommodation fees have also doubled from K1.2 million in 2009 to K2.5 million for the 2012 academic year beginning 4th March, 2012."

Luzendi described the exorbitant fees as 'first degree murder' to all poor Zambians, adding that most Zambian parents could not afford to pay such high fees.

He expressed displeasure at the tendency by CBU management to raise fees every year, adding that COBUSU would not sit back and watch poor but intelligent Zambians denied access to university education because of the high tuition fees.

"We would further like to urge education minister Dr John Phiri to quickly intervene in the issue of extremely high tuition and accommodation fees at CBU before school resumes on the 4th of March," Luzendi said.

He also advised people to refrain from trivialising students' problems by making political mileage out of them.

Luzendi observed that increased funding to public institutions coupled with proper management could reduce tuition fees at institutions of higher learning.