The management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has consented to a fee reduction after a round-table talk with students on Thursday, September 14, 2023, to end the lingering utility charges and return to normalcy on campus.
Folasade Ogunsola, vice-chancellor of UNILAG, speaking after the meeting with the students’s faculty presidents, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), southwest zone executives and the national president of the association, explained that the institution has been working towards engaging with the students’ leadership to resolve issues concerning the fees.
“It was a very fruitful discussion. Like everything, when you start something, you return to the table to discuss it. And we’re listening to our students, and when we heard loud and clear that they wanted a reduction in fees, we thought it was vital to listen to that.
For returning students, we have taken out about N20,000 across the board; the returning students without laboratories will pay about N80,000, as against about N100,000.
Those with laboratories will pay about N120,000 against N140,000, and those in the medical field will pay about N170,000 against N190,000. We took out N10,000 per annum for the incoming students,” she said.
In addition, she said: “We also took a little bit out of the utilities, but from N20,000 to N15,000; we took N3,000 from the convocation bills; it will hurt us because our accounts are high; we also recognise the prevailing circumstances, and so this is a concession to the overall situation.
When we fixed these bills, it was based on data, it wasn’t arbitrarily, and we already have moderations of those bills, what had as the time we brought it out has been moderated at least three times.”
The vice-chancellor also said that the meeting allowed both parties to understand it was not an increment but the fall of the Naira.
“One of the things that came out during our discussion is that the N25,000 they were paying per annum 15 years ago amounted to about $208; the N100,000 we are asking for is about $107.
So, in real terms, its buying power of N100,000 is about 50 per cent of what N25,000 was 15 years ago. It is really because we have the fall of the naira; it is not an increment,” she noted.
She promised that incoming students who have already paid their fees fully will be refunded, or the extra will be carried over to their following semester’s payments.
Moreover, the university don reiterated that university education is expensive, the government’s ability to carry it is dwindling, and it is becoming more challenging for the government to fund the university.
“There is an implicit cost to education because everything is to be bought, so whether we like it or not, someone has to pay for it.
I think what we should be discussing is how we support students. Across the world, people get grants, bursaries and student loans, among others.
I think I will say that there should be more agencies giving students bursaries and more state governments supporting students to the university level. Well-meaning Nigerians adopting students, among others, “she said.
Usman Barambu, president of NANS, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the deliberation with the university authority and assured that the association would continue with its visit and round table talks with other universities, especially those without student union government.
“I will go to the University of Jos in Plateau State next; if UNILAG had a functional student union government in place, I would probably not be here; the SUG leaders would have handled the situation,” he said.
Besides, he promised to meet with the minister of education for a talk on channelling proceeds from the subsidies to education, agriculture and health, among critical sectors.
Before the meeting, fees were N126,325 for new students in non-laboratory courses and N176,325 for new students in laboratory courses.
While returning students in non-laboratory courses are to pay N100,750, those in laboratory courses are to pay N140,250, and medical students are to pay N190,250.