CARDIFF, UK – A medical student fears having to give up her degree amid uncertainty over funding.
Mazvita Manzai, of Roath, has dreamed of being a doctor for as long as she can remember. She has less than two years left of her medicine course at Cardiff University — but unless she raises £24,000 she will be unable to pay her remaining tuition fees.
The 21-year-old’s mother, who has been paying for the studies, saw the contract for her job end in 2018 during upheaval in Zimbabwe. Although Mazvita’s mother has since worked as a farmer, she is struggling to cover the tuition fees, while Mazvita is unable to get a job while on placement at a hospital and working long hours each week.
Mazvita, who is in her fourth year of study, said: “I’ve come so close and the thought of not being able to finish is a little bit terrifying. I never wanted to put pressure on my mum. She is a very resourceful woman and she can pay for some of it, but not all. I’ve never pushed her to do anything and I ask her ‘please tell me if you can’t do this anymore’, because she’s done so much already.
“If I can’t finish this semester, I hope three years’ worth of work would be enough to transfer to somewhere in Zimbabwe, but there’s a very real chance that the years I’ve done could be scrapped. It really is scary.”
The student has started a £24,000 fundraiser to cover her overdue fees and those for next term. Mazvita, whose fees are £35,000 a year, is set to graduate in summer 2023. She has already raised more than £12,000 following “overwhelming” support from her tutors and coursemates.
Mazvita was born and raised in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare. She described her Cardiff application as a “shot in the dark”, having looked at the most affordable options for studying in the UK. “Cardiff is one of the cheaper universities for international students, but that is a relative ‘cheaper’,” she added.
“My mum said, ‘Just go to the interview.’ I flew over and thought it would just be quite a productive holiday, because I had no expectation at all. Cardiff only takes 25 international students in a year of 300. It was such a miracle that I got got in. I was so overwhelmed.”
Mazvita, who achieved three As at A Level, added: “My mum was really proud of me. She’s always told me, ‘I want you to have more than I ever had.’ She went to a Government school in Zimbabwe, but she sent her children to private schools in Zimbabwe. She wanted us to go overseas for university. She said, ‘Education will get you so far in life.'”
Shortly before Mazvita left for Cardiff in 2018, her mum’s contract ended, having worked for her employer for 25 years. “My mum, being a resourceful woman, worked so hard and started renting a plot of land and farming wheat,” said Mazvita.
“Zimbabwe has a really lovely climate so farming is really sustainable, but it is all based on the harvest, which is weather-dependent. My mum only gets paid closer to December than the summer, which is part of why my tuition fees are overdue.
“When my mum was first going through this situation, I was in a new country as an 18-year-old girl and it was really hard. I’m so blessed that my family has been so supportive.”
Mazvita would have considered taking time off her studies, but her visa conditions would force her to return to Zimbabwe, where she believes there would be little prospect of finding a job which would pay enough, in the struggling economy.
Her university tutor, Professor Simon Noble, shared her fundraiser on Twitter, writing: “I’ve been personal tutor to Maz for three years. She is a great student. Her story is real and she needs our support.”
Help Maz finish Med School https://t.co/ASmUP3npj0
Ive been personal tutor to Maz for 3 years. She is a great student. Her story is real and she needs our support. Please be kind by either donating or retweeting. I would be very grateful. Simon
— Simon Noble (@SimonNoble) October 27, 2021
Mazvita, who is on a placement at Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, said the response from doctors, coursemates and others has been “so kind”, helping her raise £12,665 in 10 days.
She added: “I love Cardiff. I always tell people Cardiff is this really lovely mix where the Brecon Beacons are so close, you can go climbing and walking, but the city centre is so great for a young person starting out in life. It is the best of both worlds.
“Any time I am in hospital on a placement, I get the inner peace that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. I love hearing how a patient’s day is going and making them smile. It is so lovely to not see them as a sick person, just to see them as a person, to ask about their kids and things like that.”
You can donate to the fundraiser here.