UNILAG slashes fees in deference to students’ protests

“Having removed fuel subsidy, we expect government to invest more in education and ensure that we get quality and affordable education,”

Unilag slashes fees in deference to students' protestsThe management of  the University of Lagos has announced a reduction in fees, after a meeting with the executives of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)
Recall that the hike in obligatory fees by the institution had attracted a lot of uproar by students of the institution, leading to peaceful  protests by some students who stormed the university environs chanting songs and displaying placards on several occasions in the past week.
The university had in a statement in August put mandatory charges for new undergraduate students at  N126, 325, for courses without laboratory/studio, for one academic session.
It also indicated N176,325 as mandatory charges for one academic session for courses with laboratory and studio.
A further breakdown of the approved mandatory charges for one academic year or session for returning students showed that they would pay N100,750 for courses without laboratory and studio.
The approved mandatory charges for courses with laboratory and studio, according to the statement is N140,250.
The university put approved charges for all medical students of the institution at N190,250.
It noted that utility charges of N20,000 were to be paid by all undergraduate students, while N30,000 was to be paid by all final year students.
UNILAG management attributed the hike to the need for students to get the best learning experience.
Addressing newsmen immediately after the meeting late on Thursday evening, the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Folashade Ogunsola, expresses satisfaction at the  outcome of the deliberations.
She noted that the role of dialogue in resolving issues could not be overemphasised.
“We just had a roundtable discussion with our faculty presidents and the NANS leadership and we also had the NANS President come into Lagos.
“We also had the NANS Southwest leaders and that of the Lagos chapter. It was a very fruitful deliberation. Like everything, once you start something, you come back to the table to discuss and we are always listening to our students.
“When we heard loud and clear that they really wanted a reduction in fees, we felt it was important that we listened to that.
“And so, right now, management and the NANS have worked through how we could reduce, in a way that will not hurt the university, but we will make it a little better for parents and students alike.
“For returning students, we have agreed to take away N20,000 across board,” the vice chancellor stated.
Giving a further breakdown of the outcome of the meeting, Ogunsola explained  that rather than pay N100,000 as stipulated earlier, returning students would now pay N80,000 per annum.

She said that those with laboratory would now pay N120,000, as against the N140,000.

Ogunsola said that those in the medical field would be paying N170,000, as against the N190,000 initially announced.
“We also took a little bit off the utilities. This will hurt us though, because bills are high. But we also recognise the prevailing circumstances and so this development is a concession to the prevailing circumstances, because when we fixed these bills, it was before the subsidy removal.
“Since then, it became clear that things are not getting any better and so, we also took a little away from the utility bills, which is coming down from the initial N20,000 to now N15,000 and also took out N3,000 from the convocation bills.
“For the incoming students, we slashed N10,000 from their fees each, because when we fixed these bills,  it was based on data, it wasn’t just arbitrary and we already had moderations of these bills,” she noted.
According to her, some of the incoming students are paying in installments and therefore, with the slash, it will reduce what they will pay the next round.
She noted that for those who had paid fully, the institution would probably carry over the slash as credit, or look of means of giving them back but was yet to decide on it.
“What  management had at the time the bills were brought out, I will say, has been moderated at least three times. Again, we also saw from the expenses that it was a bit hard to pass it on at once, so, it has come down extensively, as we always listen.
“We know with it, we will struggle, we have to keep struggling but at least right now, it is better than what we had before ,” Ogunsola stated.
She added that another thing that was discussed at the meeting was the issue of the N25,000 that the students had been paying per annum for the past 15 years, which amounted to 208 dollars.
“Now, the 100,000 we are asking for per annum is 107. So, in real terms, the buying power of N100,000 is about 59 per cent of what N25,000 was, 15 years ago. So, it is really because we had the fall of the Naira, which made it seem like an increase to,” she explained.
She added that at the end of the deliberations on the fees, the parties came out smiling without any having exactly what they wanted but that they were all happy.
The vice chancellor  touched on the issue of the return of the Student Union Government (SUG) President,  as another area that was delved into by the student leaders.
According to her, management had before now,  been giving the issue a critical consideration.
 She said: Students have been agitating for the return of the SUG President on our campus and this is one thing management has been considering, even though we were not considering it right now.
” We will start the process toward bringing it back, we will still have to go back to the Senate.”
Ogunsola commended the efforts of the NANS president in ensuring that the issue was settled amicably, adding that he showed sincerity of purpose.
She also lauded the other student representatives, Faculty Presidents,  for their show of maturity while the deliberations lasted.
On his part, the NANS President, Usman Barambu, emphasised the need for SUGs in universities, where there are none, adding that with such bodies on ground, issues concerning students were quickly tackled before they got to an undesirable level.
He also urged the SUGs where they exist, to always ensure they carry students along whenever there were issues to be addressed with management.
“We have reached agreement with the university management that they are going to return the SUG, which is a very big plus to us as students. If we had such on ground here, I would not have had need to come down here now, unless  they finish all the negotiations.
“But because there is none, that is why we have to be here.
“Right now, we have also been able to ensure that the utility bills are brought down to N15,000, while the convocation fees has come down to N27,000.
“We also succeeded in bringing down the hostel fees to N43,000 as against the initial N90,000, the medical hostel at the College of Medicine Idi-araba to N65,000 from the initial N120,000
“The fees for the Sodeinde hostel here on campus too was also reduced from N250,000 to N135,000,” he said.
He urged the Federal Government to also be responsive to the yearnings of the country’s youth by ensuring that it paid attention to the health, education and agricultural sectors.
“Having removed fuel subsidy, we expect government to invest more in education and ensure that we get quality and affordable education,” he noted.