President Bola Tinubu, upon his assumption of office, swiftly dismantled the fuel subsidy, setting a precedent for changes in economic policies.
However, the removal of subsidies wasn’t limited to petrol; a significant number of public universities opted to increase tuition fees by a staggering 150 per cent.
Prominent institutions such as the University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, and the University of Ibadan were among those that implemented this tuition hike.
The recent surge in public institution fees has triggered widespread public discontent, exacerbating the economic strain inflicted on Nigerians by removing fuel subsidies.
Numerous tertiary institutions nationwide have increased fees by over 150%, burdening parents and guardians grappling with the economic downturn and diminished purchasing power.
Universities cite insufficient government financial support and escalating inflation as reasons for fee hikes ranging from 100% to 200%.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, defended the increment during protests against obligatory fee hikes, emphasising the need to provide quality education in the face of rising operational costs.
She highlighted the stagnant tuition fees for over a decade and the mismatch between subvention and escalating costs, asserting that tuition remains free.
“We all know the reality of the situation in the country now. Students have been paying about N20,000 for over a decade now, and can that be sustained in the present circumstance? People are complaining now because the government did not allow the universities to effect any increment, no matter how small, for many years. Look at the cost of running the hostels and even maintaining them. What about the cost of electricity and power? The costs are not static, and the subvention to universities does not match the costs. Remember, tuition is still free,” she said.
Checks by Naija News in public universities across the country show that the increment in obligatory fees, which started late last year, has continued as more schools consider an increment in fees as the new session starts.
An example is the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), which proposed a fee hike of over 100% on January 6 this year.
The proposal, currently under debate, outlines fees for different levels, starkly contrasting to four years ago when final-year students paid only N13,000.
In the proposal, which is still being debated and worked on by the management and other stakeholders such as students and parents, fresh students are to N240,500,200 level students N131,000,300 level students N136,000,400 level students N131,000 and final year students N127,500.
To show the steepness in the hike, four years ago, final year students paid only N13, 000 and even last year when there was an increase, they only paid N37,000 and may now pay N127,500.
At the University of Jos, UNIJOS, charges were increased by over 100% because before now, students were paying N45,000, but this year, they are to pay between N95,000 and N160,000, depending on the department.
At the Plateau State University, PLASU, Bokkos, tuition fees are paid based on indigene and non-indigene factors.
The increment has also exceeded 100% as returning indigenous students who were paying N36,000 as tuition fees without other charges will now pay N80,000 without other charges, while the non-indigenes who were paying about N55,000 without other charges will now pay over N100,000 without other charges.
At the University of Lagos, UNILAG, after much protest by students, students were asked to pay between N126,325 and N176,325 depending on the course of study.
At the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile Ife, Osun State, the management eventually reduced fees to N131,000 for students in Humanities, N141,000 for science and N164,000 for Medicine, Pharmacy and related faculties.
At the Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, returning students, who were expecting to pay N65,000, were slammed with N180,000 fee, while fresh students are to pay N240,000 aside from other fees.
The story is the same at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Bayero University, Kano, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, University of Nigeria, Nsukka among others.
Speaking with Naija News, Adenira Samuel (Not his real name) lamented that he has differed the current academic session to enable him work to gather enough money to pay his obligatory fees as his guardians were having difficulties with affording the fee as a result of the increment.
“We are not finding this latest increment funny at all, it is outrageous and most of us that are responsible for the payment of our fees are considering deferment of admission because we have been unable to raise the fee for the new academic session. Many students have resulted in seeking help on Twitter and other social media platforms just to enable them pay the school fee, I have deferred my admission to work for sometime to see if I’ll be able to raise the school fee,” he said.
He further lamented that he was having difficulties accessing the student loan initiative launched by the federal government in the aftermath of the fee hike.
“I don’t even know anything about the federal government loan, I tried making inquiries with my school SUG, they told us that they have not gotten any information on the commencement of the scheme,” he added.
On his part, Adegoke Alabi (Not real name) who just gained admission at the OAU told Naija News that he might be forced to forfeit the admission as his parent were still struggling to raise the obligatory fees for him to resume academic activities.
The freshman said he was considering ways to make things easy for his parent that are faced with the huge task of raising over a N150,000 to pay his fee.
“I was admitted to OAU this session but I have forfeited the admission because my parents are still yet to raise the obligatory fees needed for me to resume class and without the payment of those fees, If i go to classes it will be like I’m wasting my time,” he said.
He further disclosed to Naija News that his parent were considering asking him to explore deffering his admission to enable them raise the remaining part of the fee.
“Out of N150,000 my parent have barely raised half of the fee, this does not include accommodation and other small small fees like faculties and departmental money. My mom have told me to ask if i can maybe defer my admission to enable them gather enough money so that i can resume with the next academic session,” he said.
He further expressed worries regarding how his parent will keep up with the payment of the fee, saying that he choose federal school because he was told the cost of academic pursuit af federal varsities was pretty cheap.
Also speaking with Naija News, Oluwadamilola Adeniran lamented that she had to embark on a plea for help to enable her raise her obligatory fees, she further expressed worries as to how she was going to raise her next school fees.
“I had to seek help from my church my friends even acqintances, will i continue this way? I am just in my second year will I keep going about begging people to help me raise money to pay my school fees?” she asked
She also lamented her inability to acces the federal government student loan scheme, saying that she doubt if the scheme was actually accessible to everbody.
“I honestly don’t know if this student loan thing is for everybody, or maybe they have not started it because I have been trying to make enquiries about it but i dont seem to have any information to this regard,” she said.
NANS Speaks On The Development, Speaks On Commencement Of FG’s Student Loan, Appeal To University To Introduce Work Study Program
However, speaking with Naija News on the development, the President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) who express sadness over the plight of the students detailed that his union was working to ensure that all young Nigerians get access to education.
He confirmed that the Federal government was yet to commence the student loan scheme.
He assured that the union was working to ensure that alal bottlenecks are removed to allow all Nigerian students get access to the loan facility.
He further detailed that his union was constantly engaging management of universities across the country on fee increment, detailing that the union has called on the federal government to prevail over universities to put a stop to the increment and ensure that education is affordable and accessible to all Nigerians.
“Students loan is yet to be opened, though it will be open soon. NANS is in touch, and we will ensure all bottlenecks are removed to ensure equal access to all Nigerian Students who needs it. We’re constantly engaging the School Management on the issue of fees increments, it’s one of our major point as we have commenced Campus tour across the Country. In the same vain, we have called on the Federal Government to immediately intervene and put a final stop to fee increments and ensure that education is affordable and accessible to Nigerians irrespective of their status,” he said.
He further detailed that the student union is currently dailoguing with management of higher institutions to see how they can introduce work study initiative to ease the financial burden on students.
“Definitely as we move from campus to campus, it is one thing, we advocate for, calling on managements of institutions to embrace the scheme of Student Work Study Initiative. Some schools are already offering the scheme, such as Delta State University, Abraka. The University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Andy Egwunyenga initiated the scheme, where students are allowed to work while studying, and today it has been a huge success, so NANS has been calling on other institutions to implement same in their various institutions, as such will go a long way in no small measure to ameliorate the burden on indigent students in our campuses,” he said.
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