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UI: A fee hike of controversy

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UI: A fee hike of controversy
  • ˜Parents: Varsity’s decision should be reversed
  • ˜Students: We’ll resist increment

 

 

 

Following the new fees regime introduced for medical students by the authorities of the University of Ibadan (UI), the students, joined by other undergraduates of the institution, have vowed to resist any form of fees hike in the university.

 

When the authorities of the nation’s premier university, the University of Ibadan (UI) on April 4, announced a new fees regime medical students of the College of Medicine, little did they realized that their action would set the students against the management. Consequently, it is no longer the best of times for the students, who are expected to pay N100,000 for their professional training, and N40,000 as accommodation levy, which was increased from N14,000 per bed-space.

But, since the announcement was made, peace and tranquility on campus have continued to elude the university, as the students vowed to challenge the management’s action. Although, the university management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka advanced some reasons for the increment, which among them, according to him, is paucity of funds confronting the university as result of the shortage in the subvention or grants from the Federal Government, the proprietor of the university.

The other reason adduced by the Vice-Chancellor to justify the increment is the inability of the institution to continue to subsidize the students’ hostel accommodation. But, the medical students frowned at the decision, and protested against the increment, which they considered draconian and violation of their rights to acquire education.

However, insisting on wielding the big stick, the Registrar, Olujinmi Olukoya, had on behalf of the Senate of the university, issued a memodirecting all medical students resident in Alexander Brown Hall, University College Hospital, Ibadan to vacate their rooms on Saturday, April 7.

The letter signed by the Registrar, specified: “The Academic Board of the College of Medicine, UI considered the possible security threat that the students’ agitation against the new fees could pose and recommended that the hostel should be closed. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, had approved the board recommendation and directed that the students should leave the hostel before 12 noon on Saturday.” Like Harmattan fire, the medical students were joined in the protest by other undergraduates of the university, who claimed that the accommodation increment from N14,000 to N40,000 was unacceptable.

Their major grouse was that the university authorities were not fair to them, their parents and guardians over its failure to widely consult them before arriving at a decision to increase their tuition and accommodation fees in this period of economic recession in the country. Worried by the university’s action, President of the Medical Students Association of the university chapter, Olakorede Jacob, and the General Secretary, Yahya Bashir, respectively condemned the closure of the hostel and that the Registrar’s letter was not written on the institution’s letterhead or dated, and again they claimed that the letter was not signed by the new Registrar, Mrs. Olubunmi Faluyi.However, the Director of Public Communication of the institution, Mr. Olatunji Oladejo, though confirmed that the students had been ordered by a letter from the Registrar to vacate the hostel pending review of the situation, he said that the new Registrar, Mrs. Faluyi, did not sign the letter because she was to assume office on Monday, April 8. Piqued by the development, some of the students, who spoke with New Telegraph, wondered why the medical students were singled out for the new professional training fee, arguing that such professional training fee was not introduced to students under professional training in other fields. One of the students, who preferred anonymity said: “The professional training levy has no justification in the first instance. It is illegal and it contradicts the Federal Government policy, which set N45,000 ceiling as school fees in all federal universities.

The university management did not consult us or our parents, or offer any genuine reason for the new fees regime. This is against Section 7 of the University Act of 2003. “None of the 17 federal medical schools in the country is paying such high levy. Considering the economic hardship in the country currently, this new fees is an added burden on our parents.” But, while defending the institution’s action, the Vice-Chancellor said that the new levies was as a result of the fact that the university had over the years been spending about N100 million yearly over what it collected in running hostel accommodation for students.

He expatiated further that while students are currently paying N14,000 per bed-space, the partial economic rate based on 2012 survey conducted by the institution, per bed-space stands at N59,650 per session. Meanwhile, since the students refused to agree with the management on the increment, the Senate of the university decided to convene a stakeholders’ meeting on Aril 11, where all the grey areas about the levy increase would be addressed and brought to an amicable settlement.

The meeting, which took place at the Trenchard Hall of the institution, was attended by parents, guardians, students and the authorities of the university, where all parties were said to have put their cards on the table with a view to address their different on the contentious issues.

A former Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Omoniyi Adewoye, who chaired and moderated the meeting, assured stakeholders that the authorities would deliberate extensively on the outcome of the meeting and put all necessary measures in place to resolve the differences. Principal Officers of the university at the meeting were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Administration), Prof. Emilolorun Aiyelari; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Strategy Partnership), Prof. Olaniyi Adeyemo; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), Prof. Adeyinka Aderinto, who were led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Idowu Olayinka. In his remarks, Olayinka said the management resolved to increase the fees in order to allow the students have all what it takes to enjoy their studies on campus. He said: “The university can no longer provide accommodation for all the students on the campus because it is not a fully residential institution.

The total population of students is about 27,000 and there are only 8,222 available bed spaces, which is 30 per cent of the total students on our campus.” To address the imbroglio, which many parents said was akin to place the cart before the horse, a parent, Fashina Olusegun, said that the university’s position was grossly uncomfortable and unacceptable, noting that the authorities should have called the meeting before forcing the levies down their throats. He, therefore, blamed the Federal Government for under-funding the education sector, especially tertiary institution, which the resulted to the crisis. Another parent, Mr. Umeh Reuben, who supported Fashina’s position, said that he felt that “whatever decision the university authorities could have taken, this type of meeting should have been held first, and this kind of rancour generated by the management’s arbitrariness would not have arisen. Sending students packing and making them to stay in the rain with their luggage should not have been allowed to happen in the first instance.” Similarly, another aggrieved parent, Elder M.O Osunubi said: “We cannot afford private universities’ tuition, reason we brought our children here. The Federal Government’s minimum wage is N18,000.

I am a federal government worker and so this kind of increment should have been gradual to ease the payment for the parents. I think the school authority should go back to the drawing board to see what they can do about the increment as we the parents are not ready to go with the increment from N14,000 to N30,000. We should come to the conclusion that the university’s decision should be reversed.

This is my motion and I want someone to come out and support it.” Mrs. Bode Akinola also a parent noted that the nation’s economy had nose-dived indeed, but appealed that the increment should be gradual and not just at once as parents were not aware and ready for such for cost. Also, Mr. Robert Obiaha, another parent, noted that if the authorities of the institution are really considerate it would not be collecting acceptance fee, which is usually outside the tuition fee, while at another breadth, it decided to increase accommodation and training fees to the discomfort of the students and their parents or guardians. “We have to be realistic. What can we do is the question to be asked. The issue on ground is that which all of us must sacrifice. Let us agree at a point on how we can resolve this crisis.

Similarly, another speaker, who supported the VC’s position, noted that “we cannot decide for the university here, but the university can consider our plea and review backward the fees and levies.” To register their grievances and disapproval of the authority’s explanation to justify the increment, a section of the students were said to have gathered outside the venue of the meeting with placards of various inscriptions, such as “No reversal, no resumption; “We say no to increment”, “Parents, students, and workers must be involved in the decision making process of the school,” among others to protest the increment. But, ahead of resumption of fresh students on April 22 for the 2017/2018 academic session and that of the returning students billed for May 5, the students expressed hope that something tangible would have been done to resolve the crisis, as the threatened to challenge the action of the management.

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