By Abimbola Adelakun.
In a distinct turn of events within Nigeria’s higher education landscape, the University of Lagos (Unilag) stands alone as the sole federal university authorized to revise its tuition fees.
This exceptional status came to light during a public hearing organized by the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on student loans, where the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Mr. David Adejo, revealed this intriguing development.
According to Adejo, the Federal Government has steadfastly maintained a no-tuition-fee policy for all federal universities across the country. He clarified that the University of Lagos was the only institution that pursued an increase in charges after the enactment of the Student Loan Act. This decision came during a period when all university Governing Councils were dissolved.
Adejo explained, ‘’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 any increase in 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.’’
This exceptional approval notwithstanding, Adejo emphasized that claims connecting the Student Loan Act to the hike in university charges were unfounded.
He underscored that these charges were essential to cover essential services, including electricity bills, and did not equate to tuition fees. Adejo also revealed that the universities, despite the charges, had struggled to cover their expenses effectively.
He outlined the preparations in place for the imminent launch of the student loan scheme during the 2023–2024 academic year. He indicated that President Bola Tinubu had issued a directive to finalize all necessary arrangements, ensuring the program’s rollout in September.
The chairman of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee, Rep. Teseer Ugbor, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to offering student loans as a palliative measure to alleviate Nigerians’ educational challenges.
While acknowledging the significance of the scheme, he expressed concerns regarding fund disbursement, repayment procedures, and equitable access for all interested students.
Ugbor called for open dialogue during the process of amending the law to guarantee that all eligible Nigerian students could avail themselves of the loan’s benefits.