The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof Folashade Ogunsola, on Saturday evening, expressed the unwillingness of the university authorities to back down on fee increments which is currently causing a crisis in the institution.
She said the university had no better choice than to stay on the current upward fee adjustment which is about 400 per cent of the old fees payable by categories of students if quality service is to be sustained by the university.
Ogunshola gave this position at a virtual news conference on Saturday evening.
She explained that the university did not just arrive at the new fee regime, which is in the range of N126,000 to 200,000 depending on courses of study, on its own but did so after wide consultation with various stakeholders in the university including the students and their parents with them jointly agreed for increment.
According to her, the total old fees which were in the range of N25,000 per student yearly were a far cry from meeting the need of UNILAG based on the current economic reality in the country, particularly since the recent removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government, which is daily pushing up the prices of goods and services in the market.
She said even with the new fees being charged to the students, the university is still heavily subsidising its services to students as to train one university student for example, costs the school so much.
According to her, UNILAG spends up to N1.7 billion on electricity alone yearly, N140 million on examinations yearly, between N100 million and N200 million on course accreditation yearly and the cost of maintenance of faculties among others, is also very huge.
“We know that even though the universities are grossly underfunded by the government, the Federal Government is still the one responsible for the payment of salaries to workers and through TETFUND does many other things.
“So, these are just a few of what we expend money on every day in UNILAG. And the fees we were charging students before now have been what we have been charging for the past 15 years and we can no longer cope with such amount again.
The Vice-chancellor declared that it is not only UNILAG that increased its obligatory fees as the Federal Government has permitted all the Federal Government universities just like the federal government colleges to do an upward review of their obligatory fees, but wondered why the noise is only about UNILAG.
She noted that what UNILAG even charged is about the lowest from other federal universities that have also announced their own fee increments such as Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and the University of Maiduguri for example.
While declaring that it is not that the university authorities do not know that many homes, including many students of public universities including UNILAG, are facing very difficult times, particularly at the moment, she assured that no student of UNILAG will because of fee hike drop out from the university.
She said various measures to address the concerns of any student who may have difficulty in payment of the new fees have been put in place.
She listed instalment payments in three batches in each academic year, availability of a Work-Study programme for interested students to raise income, scholarship opportunities for brilliant and indigent students, adoption of students for sponsorship projects by alumni and other well-meaning Nigerians, as well as special arrangement with the Lagos Bus Rapid Transport system to ease students movement on BRT corridors, as measures among others.
She promised that the university would continue to engage the stakeholders to join hands with the management to move the university forward.