Certificate Fee Hike Sparks Row In LASUSTECH

These are not the best of times for final-year students of Lagos State University of Science and Technology (LASUSTECH) Ikorodu, Lagos State, formerly Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH). They are unhappy with the sudden  500 per cent hike in certificate fees by the school authorities.

The institution’s Governing Council had, in a memo last week, announced the change in certificate fee from N5,000 to N30,000.

As contained in the memo, the Governing Council had, in April, held a meeting over a proposed upward review of students’ ancillary fees which meant the certificate fee would also change alongside others.

But, students condemned the hike. They described it as ‘harsh, outrageous and inconsiderate’.

The school’s Student Union Government (SUG) decried the increment, adding that it was not in support of the decision.

The union made its stance known in a statement and also urged students to remain calm.

“Subsequent to the memo released on May 23, 2023, about the upward review of student’s ancillary fees by the Governing Council, the Student Union Government believes that obtaining the certificate is not just a privilege but a right of every student.  Therefore, we must not be denied that right  by a policy that is not only sudden but too extreme.

“As we urge our fellow students to be calm till we meet with the management to address the issue, we also use this medium to emphatically state our position; that we are not in support of this and we will never accept such for any reason,” the statement reads in part.

Akanni Rahmotallah, a final-year Marketing student, said the school was inconsiderate. She appealed to authorities to reverse the hike.

“I am the one sponsoring myself to school, I am currently looking for means to pay the tuition fee, the management should please reduce the money,” she said.

Another final-year Business Administration student, who pleaded anonymity, condemned the increment. She urged the leadership of the institution to place a premium on students’ welfare.

“It is so heartbreaking and rather inconsiderate towards the welfare of the students. Most of us sponsor ourselves to school and it has not been very easy.

“Why would management increase certificate fees without prior notice and want an implementation straight away?

“It shows that the welfare of the students whom they nurture is not at their heart. Things are very difficult economically already; why would the school decide to make life miserable for students? We are not happy with this development at all,” she said.

Surprisingly, the increment is not only applicable to final-year students but also to the school’s fresh graduates who are yet to begin their clearance.

Also, there are issues surrounding the possibility of those who have completed their clearance and paid the initial N5,000 certificate fee adding a balance of N25,000 before their certificate would be issued to them.

Describing the increment as ‘outrageous’, former Speaker of the SUG,  Rt. Hon. Asekun Elijah faulted the school management for not notifying the graduating students prior to the commencement of the clearance exercise.

“What saddens the heart most is the fact that there was no proper notification to the students and even the graduating students who have done their clearance. There was no proper announcement stating this. It is so harsh and unbearable to move such kind of fee from N, 5000 to N30,000 in this harsh economy. To be candid, this is outrageous,” he said.

He, however, pleaded with Lagos State Government to intervene, adding that the increased fee is unaffordable for the students.

“We are pleading with the state government to come to our rescue. This is more or less like a scam. We appeal to the government for quick intervention before this situation gets out of hand. And to the management of LASUSTECH, we appeal to you. We cannot afford N30,000 for the certificate,” he added.

Former Management and Business Administration Student Association’s (MABUSSA) President, Balogun Samson, alleged that the increment was aimed at extorting students for sustenance.

“How can management wake up in a day and decide that the next move for them to add to their income is that they should increase the certificate of N5,000 to N30,000? Who does that? It is a legal way and official way of extorting students.

“They should have told us before now when we were in school. They should have told us that we are going to increase this fee for some reasons,” he said.

Former Speaker of the National Union of Lagos State Students (NULASS), Issa Quazim, said:

“Firstly, I don’t really know where the decision is coming from either the LASPOTECH management or LASUSTECH management.

“If it was LASUSTECH’s decision, definitely it has also removed subsidy from our certificate fee.

Meanwhile, for Augustina Eze, a graduating Microbiology student, who had completed her clearance and paid the initial fee for the certificate, the development is disappointing to students who thought they had settled all necessary bills having been cleared by the school.

“It’s really sad to think you have cleared all the school bills only to find out you still have some outstanding fees they added after you had cleared your bills,” she said.

Odubonojo Mary, another graduating student, said:

“When I got to the Bursary Office during my clearance and I saw minus something, I knew something funny was about to happen.

“Please for God’s sake the school management should pity us and reduce the fee from 30k to 5k because this is not the best time to increase the fee.

“If some students inform their parents about the increment, they will think they are lying. For some of them to pay that N5,000, l know they went through a lot.”

Comparing the new certificate fee with that of Lagos State University (LASU), Ashimi Tawakalitu, another graduating student, claimed that graduating students from the state-owned university pay a similar amount for their entire clearance exercise and not just for certificates.

 “LASU students have a specific fee for clearance, which includes all other fees and certificates. But here, the N30,000 is just for the certificate that used to be N5,000. If we aren’t benefitting from the school’s upgrade to a university, then we don’t have to contribute so much. Because as far as I’m concerned we’ve made sacrifices while we were still on campus,” she said.

Reacting to the development, LASUSTECH’s Dean of Students Affairs, Ademola Aderogba said the increment was a result of the harsh economic situation in the country and the foreign exchange rate.

According to him, the certificate which is said to have security features like the ones on Naira notes, is printed in the United Kingdom as there are inadequate facilities to handle the printing here in the country.

He noted that the institution had over the past seven years, been subsidising the certificate’s processing cost. But with the current decline in revenue generation by the institution, the Governing Council had to stop subsidising the cost of the certificate fee.

His words: “The economic situation in Nigeria is very clear to everybody. The price of things yesterday are not the same today, not to talk of the price of something seven years ago being the same today. When the idea of improvising our certificate arose, we were having issues with fake certificates then. We felt that we are in a digital world now and have to upgrade. Being a polytechnic of excellence then, we must lead while others follow.

“So we had to digitalise the certificate with security features like the ones you have on the Naira note which makes it difficult for anybody to fake it. The school introduced it and that’s how we started the idea.

“Meanwhile, it was not printed in Nigeria. It was printed in the UK. As we know that most of the securities printing in Nigeria is handled outside the country because we don’t have too many facilities to handle it.

“But how much is Dollars or Pounds Sterling seven years ago when we started? And how much is Pounds Sterling seven years after? N5,000 then was enough to print a copy in the UK. All along, the school had money. We were buoyant with all kinds of part-time programmes. But these programmes are winding down gradually, it is affecting school revenue. The school can no longer foot the bill like before.

“It was subsidised then. But now that the school is going through tough times, we have to remove all kinds of subsidy here and there, otherwise, the system will collapse.”

LASUSTECH Public Relations Officer, Dr. Olarenwaju Kuye, said: “You don’t have to go to the street and cause a problem, all you need to do is to follow this normal procedure because there is no issue that’s not solvable. It’s not a big issue. When you war war, you will always come back to jaw jaw. We are your fathers and we are not wicked.

 “Students who graduated since the 1980s refused to collect their certificate, it was when we fixed it at N5,000 that they started receiving it, and it was free before. Those who have paid the initial fee of N5, 000 do not have to pay anymore.”

Kuye debunked rumours that cleared students would pay a balance of N25, 000, after paying N5, 000.

He noted that the hike would only affect those yet to start their clearance. He urged current final year students to avoid fomenting trouble on campus.

“The president of SUG was here to explain the situation. As I speak with you, they have written to the management and the management will look into it,” he added.

The Nation

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