• Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Explainer: Why students should not expect tuition hike reversal

Folasade Ogunsola

Although the University of Lagos consented to reduce its fees after meeting with the students’ leaders, it is certain that reversal of the fees is not ideal if quality education is to be attained.

Folasade Ogunsola, vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka in a media parley recently told reporters that the institution will not be reverting to the old fees due to the realities of the prevailing overhead cost of running the university.

“There have been calls to return fees back but that cannot be possible. We had a committee to look at our bills, and it was obvious we needed to increase the fee.

Our electricity bill is about N1.7 billion per annum, and the cost of conducting examinations is now four times what it was last year. The university needs funds to meet its daily services,” she said.

The University of Maiduguri, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the University of Lagos, the University of Uyo, and the University of Benin, among others, have increased their fees.

To continue their operations and continue to be relevant, public tertiary institutions need adequate funding. The task of funding public universities is increasingly becoming difficult as the enrolment of students surges per year.

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And with the federal government’s disposition that it can longer bear the financial burden of universities in the country coupled with subsidy removal which has led to high cost of living and consequently to high cost of running the tertiary institutions, it is just obvious that someone must pick the bills, and in this case the parents.

Suppose the federal government hands-off funding of universities, and the parents are not ready to pay for the education of their children. Who will foot the overhead bills of these universities.

Nigeria’s petrol price has jumped from the previous N184 official pump price to more than N500, and this price further increased to N617 in some locations.

The present reality is that the N617 pump price is no longer sustainable as the landing cost of imported petrol has risen.

A fact remains that the university communities are also affected by the surging cost of living in the country. They are not immune from the electricity tariff charge, nor from the rising cost of food items, just like every other Nigerian.

Ogunsola confirmed this when she said the prevailing surge in the cost of living is also affecting the university’s finances.

“We are not unaware of the problem in the country. The university is even a victim of it,” she said.

No doubt, the cost of quality education must be paid by someone, if Nigerians want universities to provide quality education.

In countries such as Denmark, Norway, and Iceland the government and parents share the tertiary institutions funding responsibility, students are made to pay part of the fees.

To this, Remi Alatise, senior lecturer at Fountain University, Osogbo said; “Education is not cheap anywhere in the world. It may interest you to know that higher education is ridiculously cheap in Nigeria.

Government schools charge at most N16,000 for accommodation in one session. This covers utilities such as electricity, water, sanitation, security, maintenance of common rooms, cable television subscription, and other municipal services. This is not realistic even outside the schools.

Government alone cannot bear the burden of running our higher institutions. Other stakeholders must be involved. Parents must pay!”

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Similarly, Joseph Ola Awoyinfa, a senior lecturer at UNILAG insists that tuition fee is still very free.

“What the students are asked to pay is just the handling charges like janitorial, electricity, water, and other infrastructure equipment and facilities. Let us face reality if we want quality education, we must pay for it,” he said.

Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Marklenez Limited reiterated that quality tertiary education can never be cheap and the government alone cannot fund it.

In the Harvard University for instance, a new student for an undergraduate course is expected to pay not less than $54,768 (about N40, 473, 552).

How can one be able to reconcile this with the less than N200, 000 obtainable in Nigeria in most public universities?

The University of West Wales charges students depending on courses about N14,430,000 per session. No Nigerian public charges up to half that amount.

If university education must be free, the government must pick the bills, and if the government is not ready to adequately fund tertiary education, then the parents must pick the bills!

It is absolutely wrong to push the university administrators against the public.