The Harare high court on Friday ordered the University of Zimbabwe to allow students to return to campus residence halls after thousands were evicted earlier this week.

However, the judgement was to apply only to female students - university officials told the court that residence halls for men needed to be renovated to make them habitable after damages sustained in demonstrations last weekend.

Students were protesting a Z$1 million "top-up" fee for room and board imposed by the university because of an extended strike earlier this year by lecturers. University officials responded by calling in riot police to evict students on 30 minutes notice.

The university has been rocked by demonstrations and class boycotts for most of the year with students demonstrating against rising fees and falling standards.

Rangu Nyamurundira of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he considers the university administration's contention that the men's dormitories are uninhabitable to be a ploy to keep male students, considered to be more militant, off the campus.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...