Newly admitted students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, are lamenting over the hike of the new fee regime introduced by the school authorities..

This is not the best of times for the majority of students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State.

The comment by a fresh student of the school, who simply identifies himself as Akin, over the new tuition seems to say it all.

He declares, “I am in trouble. Why did I choose OAU? My own is finished. I am not sure God wants me to continue with my university education, at least, for now. I shall return to my former place to continue as a primary school teacher.”

Another fresh student, Jelili, also paints the picture of frustration in the citadel of learning.

He notes, “This is not what I bargained for. I thought I would be able to accomplish my dream of having a degree at OAU. But I am beginning to see another school of life. How can my family afford this new fee regime? This is sabotage.

“A lecturer told me during the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination that OAU is the cheapest in the country. However, what is on the ground now is different from what I heard before securing admission here.”

In the new regime, the newly admitted students to Humanities/Social Sciences have their fees increased by 322 per cent; Clinical Sciences faculties and Pharmacy by 267 per cent, and those admitted to the Faculty of Sciences have their fees increased by 253 per cent.

While fresh students of the Humanities and Social Science are to pay N92,400 (comprising admission charges of N72,400 and N20,000 for acceptance fees), their Clinical Sciences and Pharmacy counterparts are to pay N104,000 (N84,000 as admission charges and N20,000 for acceptance fees).

Hitherto, Humanities/Social Science students paid N37,150, while their colleagues in the Clinical Sciences and Pharmacy faculties paid N44,150.

This is besides the hostel fees.
In the new regime also, matriculation fees increased from N1,000 to N4,000; registration/online verification from N4,000 to N5,000; examination fees from N1,000 to N5,000; Departmental Registration/charges from N10,000 to N15,000; Student Union levy/welfare from N100 to N300.

Others are library services/virtual library access from N500 to N1, 000; medical screening from N2,500 to N5,000; sport levy from N1,000 to N2,000; identity card from N300 to N500 and brochure/handbook from N150 to N2,000.

The authorities also inaugurated municipal charges/utility for N2,500; caution fee (refundable), N5,000; Information and Communication Technology Development N2,500; Development levy/End fund, N25,000 and ICT training for N5,000.

For pre-degree students of the university, their new tuition is N175,000, against the previous sum of N155,000.
But while Akin and Jelili are complaining about the new fee regime, Jemimah, another fresh student who does not want to fully disclose her identity, sees the scenario from a different perspective. For her, if she knew it would get to this point, she would have registered for the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.

She notes, “This is not good. It is a wicked decision at a wrong time. Why did they not state this earlier? I would have bought JAMB form and chosen another school. We gained admission about six months ago; the school did not pass any information to us. The first thing the authorities are doing now is to hike the fees. For God’s sake, what kind of school is this? This is just too unfair.”

For the president-elect of the OAU Student Union Government, Ibikunle Isaac, the new fee regime would not work.

He says, “The reopening of the school e-portal for a new semester will be on May 20, which is the same day we shall be finishing our examination. The management wants to knock us down but we are going to combat them. We cannot be deceived, it is confirmed that the school fees of old students will also be increased and that will make the matter worse. We want peace and sincerely beg all stakeholders to speak up and stop the draconian action.”

Apart from the students, other members of staff of the university also frown on the new fee regime. For instance, the OAU chapter Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Dr. Caleb Aborishade, says, “The increment does not make sense. We will make our official position known after calling for a congress.

However, ASUU does not support an elitist education system. This is a federal and not a private institution and education should be for the rich and poor. We will not allow students to be denied education because of money.”

An executive member of the school’s Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, who craves anonymity, agrees with Aborishade.

He says, “You do not need to ask for public opinion on this. When something is abnormal, you will easily know.” Even as students and workers of the university are kicking against the new fee regime, the authorities say it is only at OAU that students’ fees are so cheap.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Bamitale Omole, who spoke at a lecture organised by the University of Ife Muslim Graduates Association on Saturday, tacitly confirms the increment, saying the old fee regime was no longer realistic.
He says, “It is only in OAU that students pay so cheap. For instance, they pay as low as N2,590 for accommodation. That will no longer be tolerable. When I came in as VC, I met debt on ground and gradually it is increasing. Sometimes, logistics alone costs us millions of naira. The Senate of the institution has increased the charges for fresh students. We are still consulting and dialoguing over that of the old students’.”

Also, the university’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Biodun Olarewaju, describes the increment as “an adjustment in municipal charges.”
He, nonetheless, notes that despite the new fee regime, tuition remains free in the institution.

He adds in a statement released on Sunday, “The Senate of OAU has approved the adjustment in the municipal charges payable by the new students of the institution. The old order where new students of the faculties of arts/social sciences, sciences/technology and pharmacy/college of medicine paid N12,300, N13,700 or N17,200 respectively is no longer realistic in present-day Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the Senate has unanimously agreed to improve further on the ratings of the university as the best in Nigeria, especially in terms of giving sound and quality teachings to its students. It, therefore, enjoined parents and guardians of new students to assist the university in this regard by being financially active in the payment of this fee.

“We would like to also inform the public that tuition is still free in OAU and that acceptance fee remains N20,000. The Senate has constituted a committee to take care of the financial constraints of indigent students.”

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