By Ayomide Adegboro.
After the increment in fees by federal government-owned institutions and a clap back by the government stating that tuition remains free in federal universities, wards and their guardians are still looking forward to a reversal of the fee hike.
The Federal Ministry of Education had issued a directive to increase the school fees for new students enrolling in Federal Government Colleges, commonly known as Federal Unity Colleges, to ₦100,000 from ₦45,000 on the 25th of May. Barely two months after this directive, the University of Lagos inflated its fee from ₦19,000 to ₦190,250 depending on the course and level of study. Some universities followed suit.
Rather than a reversal in the fees, various institutions have come out with measures they claim would help parents and students to cope and pay.
PAYMENT IN INSTALMENTS
Scarcely 8 days after the University of Lagos announced a hike in their fees, it rolled out some measures which it said would “ameliorate the challenges that students and parents/guardians may face.” These measures were further reviewed and reiterated during a meeting with the institution’s executives and members of the UNILAG Parents Forum on August 10.
Some of the measures announced are that students may now pay in instalments three times before the closure of registration for the Second Semester.
“The student work-study programme has been revitalized to accommodate increased remuneration. Interested students can access the program through the Dean, Student Affairs Division.”, the management said.
“Scholarship Opportunities: Students have the opportunity to access various scholarship schemes through the office of the Dean, Student Affairs Division.
“Partnership with Lagos Bus Rapid Transport System: To facilitate ease of transportation, the Management has acquired approval from Lagos State for an additional BRT dedicated route for persons who come from Berger Bus Stop axis of Lagos State. In addition, the University is in discussions to have other routes such as Oshodi and Iyana Ipaja included.
”Similarly, other federal universities such as the Bayero University Kano extended their deadline for registration and payment of fees.
FG’S STANCE ON THE FEE HIKE
However, the FG has continued to insist that its schools are still tuition-free despite hikes in other charges.
“For the avoidance of doubts, federal universities in Nigeria remain tuition-free,” a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Dele Alake, read.
The statement is titled ‘Federal Universities Remain Tuition-free.’
“We are aware that some universities have in recent weeks announced increases in the amount payable by students on sundry charges.
“However, the fact remains and we have confirmed that these are discretionary charges by each university for hostel accommodation, registration, laboratory and other charges. They are not tuition fees,” said the Presidency.
Mr. Andrew Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, while reinforcing this view on Tuesday, August 15, said the latest increment in fees by some federal government-owned universities is not connected with the Student Loans Act.
He said the institutions raised their fees to cover the cost of accommodation and utilities.
Mr Adejo explained that because of the dissolution of the governing councils of the institutions, the ministry had been in charge of approving fees increment in the absence of the councils.
He stated that the ministry only approved the request by the University of Lagos for fees increment but stopped approving others after President Tinubu gave a directive stopping any form of increment.
“What they (universities) collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.
“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the Student Loans Act is the University of Lagos. They came to the ministry with a proposal to Increase their charges because all governing councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.
“Immediately that was done, there was a resolution from the House stopping the increase of fees and the president also gave a directive stopping any increase in fees and that is where it is, even though several others have brought their proposals,” Mr Adejo said.
The National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN, are of the view that the government had indirectly increased the fees and should reverse the action.
“The moment the government increases the fees payable in its schools, others will follow, the state governments and private school owners. He should just stop it,” the Deputy National President of NAPTAN, Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said in an interview.