Varsities Cannot Survive Without Fee Increment —C'ttee Of VCs

Nigerian students might be gearing up for fresh increments of fees as the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNUs) on Sunday made it emphatically clear that no federal university in Nigeria could continue to sustain operation going forward without increasing its obligatory and some other fees being charged to students.

This position was shared with reporters by the Secretary-General of the committee, Prof Yakubu Ochefu yesterday

He maintained that the old fees regime in any of the federal universities is no longer relevant in the current economic reality in the country.

According to him, it is expensive to run universities. They hardly shut down a day. They run an almost 24-hour service.

Even when the students are on holiday, the universities keep their doors open.

‘So, the cost of running universities just like every other educational institution in the country is huge and now the situation has become almost unbearable, especially since the removal of fuel subsidy which is continuously pushing up the cost of goods and services in the country on daily basis,’ he pointed out.

Ochefu stated that the administrators of various federal universities and their management teams are not evil as some people have been led to believe because they have no choice but to raise their mandatory fees in order to continue operating and offering high-quality services.

Even then, he claimed, they continued to massively subsidise their services for students since, had they been required to charge comparable prices, their new fees would have been up to four times higher.

According to him, universities charging lower fees as some had done already is because the Federal Government is still responsible for the payment of salaries of workers and also providing some running costs even though grossly inadequate and still gives other supports through TETFund and some other intervention agencies.

He said if not for all these, public universities would have been charging high fees like the private universities do because tuition fees would have been where the salaries of workers would come from and that would have been passed on to parents and students.

He explained that the universities are the ones responsible for major running costs, which are huge such as electricity, sanitation, water supply, maintenance of infrastructures, cutting of grass, conduct of examinations, travelling and several others.

For example, he said, the cost of papers for examinations alone has gone up from N18,000 to N45,000 a carton within two years and that will be a lot of money for universities with a student population of about 30,000 or more. And that is just one issue as many also spend several millions of naira on electricity and so forth, every month.

“So, the cost of all these items are going up each day and so the universities have to push part of the costs to students and their parents.”

Ochefu therefore called on students, especially those who are still carrying placards and protesting fee hikes and parents to understand the financial burden the universities are contending with and cooperate with them to provide quality education that the country will be proud of.

He also urged the various state and local governments across the country to adopt a bursary award policy on a yearly basis for students who are their indigenes, saying such effort would equally go a long way to cushion the financial burden on parents.

The federal government, as well as alumni associations, corporate bodies and philanthropists, he added, can also give scholarship awards to indigent but brilliant students as the provision of a well-rounded education to the citizenry is a shared responsibility by all.

Africa Today News, New York

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