By Alao Blessing Ogomide, Olowoporoku Adewale Samuel, Ezinne Gabriel, Ogunnowo Omotolani Adeola
Except the Federal Government can guarantee job placements for fresh graduates, its much-touted loan scheme for indigent undergraduates may flop.
Only effective loan repayment by beneficiaries can ensure the scheme’s success, says Professor Kayode Adebayo, Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), UNILAG chapter.
Adebayo, a lecturer at the Department of Architecture, questions how unemployed beneficiaries of the scheme can offset their loans.
“The students will probably have no means of paying back. No one is stopping the students from taking the loans, but is it their parents’ salary that will repay the loan? Why is nobody talking about where they will work? As a union, we will keep saying our own,” he added.
He explained that in countries where student loans are successful, careful planning ensures graduates can afford repayment. The practices that have made student loans work in other climes should be introduced to Nigeria if this initiative is to be adopted, he advised.
Adebayo pointed out that the Federal Government didn’t clearly state the purpose of the loan. “They do not know if the loan is for the students to buy clothes and eat in the university or for them to hang on the window. Is the loan to pay for these services, or is a school fee coming?”
He emphasised that reviving the education sector is a collective responsibility for all Nigerians, highlighting ASUU’s longstanding commitment to preserving the public education system. He says ASUU’s dedicated efforts have extended to the point where some members feel strained from prioritising student welfare over their own. He urged everyone to engage in this crucial cause.
On the fee increment across several federal universities including UNILAG, the ASUU chairman noted that the union had taken a stance that it does not even recognise the fees the students are paying, much less promising to advocate that the fees do not increase.
“Since students have succumbed to paying that amount, it is up to them to ensure that the price does not increase. As for ASUU, they are not a party to it and are not going to negotiate anything,” he opined.
As he believes that students in this nation could still enjoy free education, he reiterated ASUU’s stance on not supporting the loan.
Adebayo advised students to fight for their rights through any means, either as a student body or as citizens. He noted that the problem in the academic sector demands urgent intervention, especially in tertiary education, as the industry can do a great deal with maximum support.