·Students are dropping out — Parents·NANS kicks, accuses institutions of flouting presidential directive
Most tertiary institutions in the country have hiked their fees by over 150 %, putting serious strains on the finances of parents and guardians who also have to contend with the poor state of the economy which has reduced purchasing power and savings.
Checks by Vanguard Learning in public universities across the country show that the increment in obligatory fees, which started late last year is continuing, as a new session starts in some schools this January.
Only on January 6, this year, for instance, the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Ondo State came out with a proposal to hike fees by over 100%.
In the proposal, which is still being debated and worked on by the management and other stakeholders such as students and parents, fresh students are to N240,500, 200 level students N131,000, 300 level students N136,000, 400 level students N131,000 and final year students N127,500.
To show the steepness in the hike, four years ago, final year students paid only N13, 000 and even last year, when there was also an increase, they only paid N37,000 and may now pay N127,500.
Situations on some campuses
At the University of Jos, UNIJOS, charges were increased by over 100% because before now, students were paying N45,000, but this year, they are to pay between N95,000 and N160,000 depending on the department.
At the Plateau State University, PLASU, Bokkos, tuition fees are paid based on indigene and non-indigene factors.
The increment has also exceeded 100% as returning indigenous students who were paying N36,000 as tuition fees without other charges will now pay N80,000 without other charges, while the non-indigenes who were paying about N55,000 without other charges will now pay over N100,000 without other charges.
At the University of Uyo (UNIUYO), Akwa Ibom State, there has been a gradual increase in tuition fees in the last couple of years that reflects from the first year of admission in such a manner that students pay different fees for the same course of study at different levels.
A female Microbiology student, simply identified as Glory, told Vanguard Learning that she paid N105,750 as a fresher, just starting her 100 Level, but her counterparts in the Arts pay about N75,000.
Malta, a 300-level Arts student, paid N47,000 when she was admitted into the school three years ago. In the current semester, she is made to maintain the same tuition fee while new intakes are made to pay as high as N75,000.
A 200-level male student of Political Science said he paid a little above N60,000 in his first year of admission.
“This new session, I have not gone to pay, but I heard there is a little drop from what I paid in 100 Level. From what I have learnt, you are meant to maintain what you paid in your first year. Not everyone is affected by new tuition”, he said.”
At the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, returning students, who were expecting to pay N65,000, were slammed with N180,000 fee, while fresh students are to pay N240,000 aside from other fees.
At the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after much protest by students, students were asked to pay between N126,325 and N176,325 depending on the course of study.
At the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile Ife, Osun State, the management eventually reduced fees to N131,000 for students in Humanities, N141,000 for science and N164,000 for Medicine, Pharmacy and related faculties.
The story is the same at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, University of Nigeria, Nsukka among others.
The universities were previously charging as low as N25, 000 a few years ago.
The Vice Chancellor, University of Benin, UNIBEN, Prof. Lilian Salami, who is also the chairperson of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, recently led other VCs to submit a position paper of the group to the federal government on how to go about funding the system and handle the issue of hike in fees.
It was learnt that the team put the cost of training an undergraduate for a year at between N500,000 and N1 million excluding books, feeding and other sundry charges. The government is still stating it operates a free tuition system in those schools.
The VC, UNILAG, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, at the peak of the protest against the increase in obligatory fees, said the issue is about providing sound education for young Nigerians.
“We all know the reality of the situation in the country now. Students have been paying about N20, 000 for over a decade now and can that be sustained in the present circumstance? People are complaining now because the government did not allow the universities to effect any increment, no matter how small for so many years. Look at the cost of running the hostels and even maintaining them. What about the cost of electricity and power? The costs are not static and the subvention to universities is not matching the costs. Remember, tuition is still free,” she said.
The spokesman for UNIJOS, Abdullahi Abdullahi, said, “We don’t pay tuition but school charges, before, it was N45,000 but right now, every department has different charges based on the services they provide. For returning students, it ranges from N95,000 to N130,000 but for the new students, it ranges from N130,000 to N160,000 or so. There are laboratory charges and other sundry charges.”
TASUED Registrar, Chief Dapo Oke, said, “In the entire Southwest, which state university is charging as low as N100,000? We have been collecting N65,000, when some secondary school children pay N100,000 per term and there are three terms in a year. But our university students are paying as low as N65,000 for a whole year. Is that enough to buy laboratory equipment, to pay staff salaries or to run on diesel 24 hours?
“These are issues that necessitated the increase, and before we made the increase, we discussed it with the Student Union Government. We’ve made them realise it, but they would still make their complaints. We will listen to their complaints; we will inform the government. At the end of the day, we will conclude,” he said.
Oke maintained that TASUED could not afford to run inferior academic programmes, compared to what obtains in other universities.
“So, we have to charge economic fees. What we have charged is the barest minimum in reality with the existing market forces,” he said.
A source in FUTA, who craved anonymity told our correspondent that, “The University has inbuilt mechanism within the system to look into and build consensus on matters affecting students including charges. And that mechanism is working on this matter and consensus will be achieved.
Fees are mainly for student-related services which are sourced from the economy. And the costs of such goods and services provided by the university for the students will certainly be impacted by costs of good and services in the economy.”
Parents and students’ reactions
The National President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said it waa unfortunate that parents and guardians have been burdened with increment in fees at this point in time.
“We all know what the economic situation in the country is. Things are expensive, the purchasing power of the people greatly reduced. In fact, most people cannot save anything from their incomes, as the incomes are not enough to sustain their families.
” With these fee increases here and there, many students will be forced to drop out. We are not in support of the increment. We have made our position known to the government and the Minister of Education promised that a government team will meet with us and other stakeholders, we are still waiting for them to call us for that meeting, ” he stated.
Mrs. Esther Danlami, whose child is at UNIJOS, noted, “Since the increment, it has not been easy for us. My husband is a retiree, I am a Primary School Teacher and we have three children in the university. With the current economic situation, we are in a very dire situation.”
Reacting to the gale of fee increment across the country, even after the FG said the schools should put that on hold, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has condemned the proposed tuition fee increases by the management of the Federal University of Technology, Akure and the Federal College of Agriculture, also in Akure, Ondo State.
According to the Senate President of NANS, Comrade Akinteye Afeez, the development is unacceptable and could lead to students mobilising across the country to protest the development.
“The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) issues this stern statement to the Federal Government of Nigeria, demanding immediate intervention in the looming crisis surrounding tuition fee increment across educational institutions in the country.
“We, the leadership of NANS, stand united and resolute in our commitment to protecting the rights and interests of Nigerian students.
To this end, the recent proposals for tuition fee increases, notably from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), are unequivocally rejected.
“It is disheartening and worrisome that despite the Federal Government’s explicit instructions against tuition fee hikes, certain Vice Chancellors and heads of institutions seem poised to defy these directives.
“This we find barbaric, therefore, we declare that if these institutions persist in their disregard for the government’s stance, NANS will mobilize Nigerian students nationwide to stage a relentless protest, stampede, and shut down the country until our demands are met.
“We emphasize that the implementation of the new budget for education is closely monitored by NANS, and any attempt to burden students with additional financial strain will be met with fierce resistance. Education is a right, not a privilege, and we will not tolerate any infringement upon the accessibility of quality education for the Nigerian student.
“Education is not a privilege reserved for a select few; it is an inalienable right that must be made available to every Nigerian, especially the common man. The proposed tuition fee hikes, as put forth by institutions like the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), and Federal College of Agriculture, Akure (FECA), threaten to erode this fundamental right and push education beyond the reach of many.
“NANS vehemently rejects any policy that jeopardizes the accessibility of education to the common man. The negative effects of these tuition fee increments are far-reaching and have severe implications for our nation’s future.
“As fees skyrocket, many students, burdened by financial strain, will be forced to abandon their education. This tragic consequence will not only deprive countless individuals of their right to learn but will also exacerbate unemployment rates and drive some into criminal activities as a desperate means of survival.”