By / September 14, 2023

ASUU: Parents protest over the increase of Varsaties fees

As tertiary institutions across the country begin a new session next week, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, parents and…

As tertiary institutions across the country begin a new session next week, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, parents and students started protests as more varsities continue to hike their fees amid a worsening economy.

ASUU as well as the associations of parents and students warned about the likelihood of mass dropouts of students following the hikes in fees by the universities across the country.

The union was worried about the development just as apprehensive parents expressed concerns over the implication of the fee hike for their children and wards in public tertiary institutions.

The National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, frowned on the fee increases, noting that the university is not a profit-making commercial center.

The management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, announced a new school fee regime on Wednesday.

The decision, according to a communiqué released by the university’s Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olarewaju, was taken by the school’s Senate at its emergency meeting held on Tuesday.

The statement disclosed that fresh students in the Faculties of Arts, Law and Humanities would pay N151, 200, while returning students of the same faculties would pay N89,200.

Checks by The PUNCH indicated that returning students in Faculties of Arts, Law and Humanities as of the last academic session paid N20,100.

According to the management, new students being admitted into the College of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Pharmacy are to pay N190, 200 while returning students, who paid N28,100 in the last academic session, will cough out N128, 200.

The statement read partly, “For those in the Faculties of Arts, Law and Humanities, the fresh students will pay N151, 200 while returning students of the same faculties will pay N89,200.

“For those in the Faculties of Technology and Science, the new students will pay N163, 200 and the returning students of the same faculties are to pay N101, 200.

“In addition, the new students being admitted into the Faculties in the College of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Pharmacy are to pay N190, 200 ( new students) and N128, 200 ( returning students), respectively.”

The same scenario was observed at the University of Benin where new fees had been introduced by the management for full-time undergraduate courses for the 2022/2023 academic session.

Before the increment, science students who used to pay N73, 000, are now required to pay N190, 000.  Non-science students who used to pay N69, 000, are now mandated to part with N170, 000.

A breakdown of the increment for new science students included exam and lab fees of N30, 000; library N15, 000; sports N5, 000;  ICT N5,000;  counselling  N1,000;  utility N20,000;  medical charge/life insurance N5,000 and accreditation N24,000.

Other levies included sanitation N7,000; bank/portal charges N5,500; development levy N20,000;  students union dues  N2,500;  orientation brochure N5,000; certificate screening N5,000; academic gown N5,000 and  ID  card N5,000.

Non-science student are to pay N10, 000 for the laboratory while other fees are the same.

However, after a meeting between the Students Union Government and the school management, the fee was reduced to N105,000 for non-science students and N115,000 for science students.

Subsequently, the non-science students will pay N85, 000 while the science students will pay N95, 000.

Several federal universities began the implementation of increment in fees following the suspension of the industrial action by the ASUU in October 2022.

The varsities which hiked their fees included the Federal University of Health Sciences, Azare; University of Maiduguri; Federal University, Dutse; Federal University, Lafia; University of Uyo; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, among others.

The universities in separate memos attributed the development to the rising cost of learning materials and the need to adequately fund activities in their respective institutions.

So far in 2023, the Bayero University, Kano; University of Lagos, Akoka; University of Jos; and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife had also announced fee increment.

The University of Nigeria Nsukka similarly increased fees payable by undergraduates by 100 per cent across all levels.

A breakdown of the fees structure indicated that the first-year students of the Faculties of Social Sciences, Agriculture Sciences, Education and Arts would pay N110,000; N85,000 for 200 and 300 levels students while final year students will pay N83,000.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Registrar, Dr Christopher Igbokwe and published on the UNN’s website last December.

For the Faculties of Business Administration and Environmental Science, 100 Level students will now pay N114,000, while 200 and 300 levels students will pay N85,000; final year students will pay N83,000.

The statement read in part, “Faculties of Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences will now pay N112,000, N85,000, N83,000.

“The Faculty of Engineering will now pay N116,000 N85,000 and N83,000 for year one, others and final year students, respectively.

“Faculties of Law and Veterinary Medicine will now pay N119,000; N95,000 and N92,000.

“Faculties of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health sciences and Basic Medical Sciences will now pay N120,000; N95,000 and 92,000.”

The hostel fee was also increased to N35,000 annually.

Speaking on the state of affairs, Mrs Grace Oluwagbotemi, whose daughter is a student at the OAU, complained about the sudden fee hike from N21,000  to N89,000.

She said, “I am a single mother and her siblings are still in secondary school. Already, I have told her to combine her schooling with her hair-making skills to sustain her in school; if not, there is no way I would pull through.

“Who knows what will happen next year? Even those who can’t afford (the fee) will definitely withdraw their children from universities nationwide. It is obvious, students are already protesting because they know their parents cannot afford the fees.”

Also, a former police officer, Mr Samuel Oladunni, who decried the increase in the fee, stated, “My son is a fresher in OAU and the fee is over N190,000 for pharmacy department, and I am a retired police officer.

‘’My wife is a secondary school teacher. How much is my pension? In fact, my friend has put his son’s education on hold because he can’t afford it. There is no doubt many parents will have to put their children’s education on hold because of the economy. The government needs to consider us, especially now that the prices of things have increased with the subsidy removal.

Another concerned parent, Chigozie Okpara, expressed his frustration regarding the recent increase in school fees.

He said, “The truth of the matter is that the government is increasing school fees in federal institutions without considering the economic capacity of parents. At a time when we are experiencing numerous price hikes in various aspects of life, increasing school fees seems unfair for both parents and students.”

Okpara highlighted the potential consequences of such an increase, adding that ‘’Many people will not be able to afford it, so it’s like sentencing people to become beggars, constantly relying on friends, uncles, and aunties for financial assistance. This would not be the case if the fees were reasonable and parents could afford them .’’l do think it would lead to mass withdrawal of students since there is no better alternative. ”

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