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Tuition:An Increase In Tuition Rises A Protests In Public Versities

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Offline Heroslodge

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Students of the Lagos State University have not been enjoying uninterrupted academic session. After the over five-month strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities last year, the institution has been experiencing internal crises largely occasioned by tuition hike. Authorities of the varsity were said to have fixed the fees of fresh students at between N190, 000 and N400, 000. Specifically, Arts/ Education students pay N193, 750; Social and Management Sciences, N223, 750; Law, N248, 750. Besides, students in Communication/Transport,
Sciences, Engineering and College of Medicine pay N238, 750, N258, 750, N298, 750 and N348, 750 respectively. Before the new tuition, students were paying between N25, 000 and N62, 500 depending on their courses and faculties. The development made the students of LASU to embark on protests against the increment. In their past protests, LASU students had blocked highways and refused to be pacified by the overtures of the school management. Their stand was that only a reversal of the fees would bring peace to the university. During the last May Day, Chairman of ASUU, LASU chapter, Dr. Adekunle Idris, said there was nothing worth celebrating about the day because there was no cause for it. Idris added, ‘‘We cannot
celebrate when our students pay exorbitant fees – the school fees that range between N197, 000 and N300, 000.We believe it is anti- people.’’ Also, Students’ Union President of LASU, Mr. Nurudeen Yusuf, told SUNDAY PUNCH that it was wrong for any government at any level to initiate private financing to run education. He lamented that government had refused to see education as a right but as a privilege. Yusuf said, ‘‘The government of Nigerian continues to deny the youth access to quality education. If people are denied
education, we are unknowingly inviting trouble into the society. Being leaders of tomorrow, as the elite continuously refer to us, we are ready to take our future into our hands. They failed to give us food, water and now they are planning to deny us education.’’ According to him, the rich send their children to schools abroad believing that by empowering them, they will rule children of the poor someday. ‘‘Our government lacks focus and that is why they don’t see the need for the youth to get free and quality education.
We will remain resolute even if the National Association of Nigerian Students is insensitive about this matter, ’’ he added. To this end, he noted that the protests would continue. The Lagos State Government has promised to make definite pronouncement on the issue of the fee hike soon. Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, said the government accorded priority attention to education and would explore all avenues to resolve the crisis. She said, “I was in the meeting that the governor held with the students. They were saying the school fees were too high and we told them to go back and come with a programme of payment that they think would be suitable for them. The governor told me that the students had brought their plan a couple of days ago. He will soon present it to the executive council. The issue of LASU is something we are taking serious. Very soon, you
will hear our pronouncement as a government on the issue. We are not insensitive. We know what is happening and we are proactive.” Despite the assurances, students of the institution are yet to shelve the protests. On Tuesday, they took over the Ikeja Along axis to register their grievances against the new fees. Students of LASU are not the only one feeling the heat of such increment. Their counterparts in the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State recently protested against the new regime of tuition introduced by the varsity’s authorities. The management of OAU had reportedly increased the fee of newly admitted students into Humanities/Social Sciences
by 322 per cent; Clinical Sciences and Pharmacy by 267 per cent, and those in Sciences by 253 per cent. Going by such increment, new students into OAU will pay between N92, 400 and N104, 000, including acceptance fee as against N37,150 and N44, 150
previously paid by old students. The varsity’s spokesperson, Mr. Abiodun Olanrewaju, however told SUNDAY PUNCH that it was untrue that the new tuition recommended about N100, 000 to be paid by the least-paying student in OAU. He also described the students’ protest against the new fees as ‘unguarded exhibition of youthful exuberance.’ Olanrewaju said, ‘‘One thing is clear, students who attended private nursery and secondary schools including good public schools knew how everything was before they were admitted into the university. Our charges are the
most ridiculous despite being a
top-class university. Before now, students in the faculties of arts, administration, education, law and social sciences paid N5, 300 per session while those in sciences paid N7,800 and those in health
sciences paid N12, 800.’’ He further said the new fee for those in the faculties of arts, administration, education, law and social sciences is N19, 700 while students in faculties of sciences and health sciences now pay N30, 700 and N33, 700
respectively. Olanrewaju added that current economic realities forced the varsity’s authorities to * the fees, which he said, are still the cheapest in Africa. The university noted on its website that it was vital to increase the fees if it must continue to be reckoned with in the comity of great universities in the provision of
quality and competitive academic curricula and up-to- date infrastructural facilities. It stated, ‘‘Indeed, the university administration did a comparative analysis on the regime of charges in other federal universities in the country and it was discovered that the charges paid by students in OAU were not only ridiculously low but have become very unsustainable if our university
is to survive.’’ It also cited the dwindling of overhead cost allocation by 50 per cent and subvention received from the Federal Government including inflation and the cost of introducing online registration/verification of student data/information/ certificates as part of the reasons for the new fees. On his part, President, Students’ Union, OAU, Mr. Ibikunle Isaac, said every public university management
often hides under the guise of poor funding from the Federal Government to introduce new
tuition. Isaac said, ‘‘We know that the
Federal Government does not fund education properly. Its allocation to education is far below the UNESCO recommendation but our universities are also not able to generate funds internally properly. They do not have to exploit students by introducing exorbitant fees. Universities such as OAU, University of Lagos, and the University of Ibadan have robust alumni-base. Their authorities can tap into the alumni-base to generate funds or get grants from different organisations.’’ According to him, the consequence of exorbitant fee hike is that indigent students will drop out and those desiring to pay by all means could take to vices. A student of UNILAG, Miss Iretioluwa Aboaba, said increasing protests in public varsities caused by tuition hike should be checked in order to stabilise academic sessions. She said, ‘‘Private universities are no-go areas for children of the poor. But it is also disturbing that protests are now becoming the order of the day because of the new regimes of fee hike in public universities. I do not understand how students can concentrate when they have to participate in protests aimed at making the authorities see reasons why they must get qualitative education. It is sad.’’


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