Indigent students, student loan helpless as tertiary institutions hike fees

Akesire Abdurrahmon’s worry goes beyond the sudden proposal to increase tuition by the management of his school: His sister recently gained admission into the same school, the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State at the threshold of 300% proposed increment.

Abdurrahmon’s parents are both civil servants with three children in universities, and another at the verge of seeking admission. 

“All of these payments are just too much for a civil servant parent”, the 400-level student of Applied Geophysics cried out. “One of us who’s in FUNAAB is paying about N75,000 this semester, accomodation renewal (like myself and my sister), and another one in the final year in her secondary school. She will be writing JAMB, WAEC, NECO (compulsory for all the students in her school), etc.”

FUTA management’s decision to increase tuition is the most recent by authorities of government-owned tertiary institutions — Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, the University of Abuja, the University of Ibadan, the University of Lagos and at least ten other federal and state universities have topped tuition. 

The public universities’ increment of tuition is coming at the wake of the interest-free student loan introduced by the federal government in June 2023. 

After signing the student loan bill into law, President Bola Tinubu had said no students will drop out under his administration due to inability to pay tuition.  But then, the tenure of rising tuition began, and many students had reportedly dropped out of school. 

The National President of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Emmanuel Osodeke had said only poor funding is responsible for introduction of student loans and charges. 

“Right from the start, we believe that the Nigerian state is capable of funding education in Nigeria. All these issues that have led to the introduction of the loan, the issues of charges in our universities, are as a result of poor funding. So, this particular effort by the government is supposed to meet that funding gap in the universities.”

The conditions to access the loan have also been of concern to students and parents.  Applicants are required to present two guarantors – a level 12 civil servant and a lawyer with at least 10 years post-call experience; repayment begins two years after the completion of National Youth Service Corps.

Also, section 14 & 16 of the Access to Higher Education Act, 2023, otherwise known as students loan Act, which established an Education Loan Fund, stated that only students of government-owned tertiary institutions can apply for the loan when it takes off. 

The Federal Government had voted ₦50 billion in the 2024 budget for the implementation of its student loan scheme, which will begin in January. 

The sum of ₦2.18 trillion was allocated for education out of the ₦27.5 trillion budget proposal for 2024 fiscal year.

FUTA shutdown after students trooped out to protest the proposed increment. 

The students and parents protest against the ‘outrageous’ hike, but the school authorities hardly reduce the hiked fees at the end of the demonstrations.

Charges double

In his first year, Abdurrahmon paid ₦51,200, but his sister may pay nothing less than ₦200,000 now. He also paid ₦13,300 and ₦36,000 in 200 and 300 levels respectively, but with the change, his sister may pay ₦131,000 and ₦136,000 proposed fee for the same level. Tuition charges vary from department to department. 

The President of the FUTA Student Union (FUTASU), Comrade Olayemi Oluwasoromidayo said “the management had increased the school fees to over ₦200,000 for fresh students, while old students who were paying ₦35,000 would now pay ₦130,000”.

Last year, returning students of Niger Delta University (NDU), Amasoma, in the Faculty of Nursing paid ₦37,000 as school fees, but they would likely pay ₦100,000.

SCHOOLSOLD TUITION PROPOSED TUITION
Federal University of Technology (FUTA)₦51,000₦200,000
Federal University Lokoja (FUL)₦56,000₦188,500
Nnamdi Azikiwe University₦26,000;₦55,000
Niger Delta University₦37,000₦100,000
University of Uyo₦48,000₦105,000
Unilag ₦40,000₦70,000
UI₦25, 000 ₦50,000
OAU₦20,000 ₦68, 500

SOURCE; Students, media reports

Also, before the new tuition was introduced, new students of the Federal University Lokoja (FUL), Kogi State were charged ₦56,000 as school fees, but the fees is now ₦188,500. Similarly, fees for fresh students in arts and social sciences that was fixed for ₦55,000 was increased to ₦183,500 just as returning students are expected to pay ₦113,000 as against ₦47,000 old fee.

University of Uyo (UNIUYO) hiked its charges from ₦48,000 to ₦105,000 for new students. Students of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, are to pay ₦55,000 from ₦26,000, while returning students in the Arts and related faculties in UNIABUJA would be paying ₦82,000, while their medical counterparts pay ₦225,000.

The Unilag has increased fees for its undergraduate students from ₦40,000 to ₦70,000; UI from ₦25, 000 to ₦50,000; OAU from ₦20,000 to ₦68, 500; Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma from ₦55,000 to ₦161,500 for returning students; Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli new students are to pay ₦201,815 from its initial N80,000, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai returning students are to pay ₦86,000; Imo State University, Owerri, has increased from ₦65,000 to ₦120,000 for its returning students; Kwara State University, Ilorin, from ₦85,000 to ₦200,000; fresh students at Edo State University, Uzairu, are to pay ₦378,500 from the old fees of ₦145,000, while University of Delta, Agbor and Dennis Osadebe University, Asaba, have increased fees to ₦170,000 and ₦185,000, from ₦65,000 and ₦70,000 respectively.

A 200-level Communication and Language Arts student, UI, Ogunrinu Olanshile expressed that “the student loan policy is actually a ploy to take education out of the reach of the poor, it is the reason why institutions across the nation are introducing astronomical fees for poor students.”

Olanshile, whose school had increased fees in the past, stressed that “it is the primary duty of the government to provide free education at all levels,” according to the Nigerian Constitution. “So, attempting to introduce the loan as a panacea for the induced increment is tantamount to evading its constitutional responsibility and must be firmly rejected.”

Meanwhile, today is the end of January when the disbursement of student loans is expected to start, students said nothing has been heard about it so far. 

Quadri Yahya

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