• Thursday, December 07, 2023
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Tertiary institutions hike fees on rising operational costs

New national accounts, old untackled challenges

Nigerian universities are drastically increasing fees this year owing to the recent subsidy removal that has shot-up their operational costs in recent weeks.

Petrol prices in Africa’s biggest economy are selling at an average of N526.7 per litre from an average of N191.8 per litre two months ago, according to BusinessDay’s calculation of NNPC’s new/old price list after the government ended its subsidy programme.

The situation has led to a fresh spike in prices of all items, further heaping pressure and taking its toll on households and businesses.

Ifeanyi Abada, chapter chairman of the Academic Staff Union of University said the government has made it clear it no longer fund tertiary education. He said universities cannot afford to bear the high operational costs and are forced to increase tuition fees.

“ASUU has been fighting the government over the issue of funding but many Nigerians didn’t understand the position of the union,” he said.

BusinessDay findings show that several universities have commenced hiking fees. The University of Maiduguri recently increased its registration fees for new students by 385 percent from N39,000 in 2022 to N150,000.

Also, University of Benin, in Edo State recently hiked the registration and tuition fees by 38.4 percent for science courses and 40 percent for non-science courses.

Amaka Nwachukwu, a 100 level science student told BusinessDay that the university management have asked students to pay N190,00 for science students, as against N73,000, about 38.4 percent increase, while non-science students are to pay N170,000 against the usual N69,000, about 40 percent hike.

The Bayero University of Kano recently announced in its special bulletin the increase in central registration fees, administrative and hostel maintenance charges for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

According to the new school fees, students of Nursing would pay the highest among undergraduates with N220, 500 (fresh) and N197,500 (returning).

In the Faculty of Clinical Sciences (MBBS) and Dentistry students will now pay N170,000 (fresh) and N160, 000 (returning) and all students of education courses will pay between N137, 500 and N138, 500 for new students while returning students will pay between N132, 500 and N138, 500 depending on their course.

The least in the category are students from Faculties of Arts and Islamic Studies, Law, Management Sciences and Social Sciences who will pay N97,000 as returning while fresh students will pay N105, 000 as against the old fees of about N39,000, about 40 percent, and 37 percent hike respectively.

Students from Faculties of Computer Science, Communications, Earth and Environmental Sciences will also pay N100, 000 as returning while new students will pay N110, 000 respectively.

Students of the University of Lagos expressed worries that their fees would be hiked. Damilola Tajudeen, a 200 level student at the Akoka campus of the university, said there are rumours that the fees would soon be increased due the high cost of living in the country.

Ambrose Alli University (AAU), Ekpoma, Edo State, recently announced an increase in the school’s registration fees. Some students are now expected to pay the sum of N741, 500 as against N185, 000, about 25 percent increase compared to what they paid last year.
Medical students are now expected to pay N638, 000 as against N216, 000 based on the new increment.

This is almost a 300 percent increment, and the students took to the streets to protest against that, stating that now some courses in the school are more expensive than what is obtainable in some private universities.

Concerned parents and stakeholders are calling on the institution’s management to reconsider its decision because according to them the hike is unbearable.

Friday Erhabor, a parent with children in universities said the increase in fees should be anticipated with the removal of petrol subsidy.

“It should be anticipated, energy cost and fuel have increased. The schools need to break even, hence the increase in various payable fees across tertiary institutions in Nigeria,” he said.

In addition, he said: “This is where the government ought to have stepped in with palliatives in the form of incentives to these institutions because of how essential their services are.

“If the fees continue to be skyrocketed by the various institutions without government intervention, it will make education out of the reach of the masses.”

Charles Onwunali, senior lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) maintained that the subsidy removal and student loan Act are pointers to the fact that the government wants to commercialise education in Nigeria, especially at the tertiary level.

“They want to use the student loan to increase school fees. We don’t have the system to monitor it,” he noted.

Damilola Oluwatunmise, a postgraduate student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) attributed the increase in fees to the subsidy removal.

“It is subsidy removal, everything is expensive now,” she noted.
Ifeanyi Eke, an educationist said it is incredible the situation Nigerians have found themselves with the introductions made by the new government without adequate plans to streamline the concomitant challenges.

“What the government is saying is that education is not for the children of the poor in the country. Most of the students in public universities are from poor homes, how will they cope with this?” he asked.