By Uche Amunike
The students of University of Lagos (UNILAG), have yet again, taken to the streets, Wednesday, to protest the hike in tuition imposed by the school management.
Recall that the students had earlier embarked on a strike, a week ago, but were stopped by security operatives who fired tear gas on them, to disperse them. Two students were arrested during this imbroglio, but eventually released. This time, however, protesters insist that the tuition hike must be reversed.
In July, the UNILAG management had announced that there would be an increment of school fees from N26,000 and about N76,000 to between N120,750 and N240,250, depending on the levels and causes of study.
Notably, some other Nigerian public universities also announced an increase in tuition, which set off protests across many schools. These schools include the University of Benin, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Maiduguri, University of Abuja and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University.
Similarly, the University of Jos, Plateau State students also embarked on a similar protest and were seen headed to their school entrance gate with placards, chanting solidarity songs to protest the tuition hike by their school management.
It is contradictory that the federal government maintains that Nigerian public universities are tuition free, whereas the recent astronomical hike in fees across board states otherwise. As a result, students in most of the public universities have continued to cry out through the outrage and protests.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Folasade Ogunsola had stated that old fees regime genuinely no longer sustained the school because they still incure increasing expenses that bring about revenue deficits of about N1 billion naira annually.
She, however, recently averred that no student of the University of Lagos would drop out as a result of the tuition hike. She gave her best assurances that the university would introduce measures like scholarship opportunities, installment payment option and work study programs, among other things, to see that students do not drop out of the school.
Hear her: ‘The fee payment system has been re-configured to allow the installment payment option: three times before the closure of the academic year.’
‘The student work-study programme has been revitalized to accommodate increased remuneration. Interested students can access the program through the office of the dean of the student affairs division.’
‘Students have the opportunity to access various scholarship opportunities including the UNILAG Scholars Award for exceptionally brilliant students, through the office of the Dean, Student Affairs Division.’
As it stands, the UNILAG students, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and other stakeholders are billed to meet with the Vice chancellor on Thursday for further deliberation on the matter.
The National Public Relations officer of the Nigerian Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has also stated that the outcome of their meeting with the school management will set the agenda for their next line of action.