The astronomical tuition fee being paid by students of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, is yet to be reduced, two years after the increment. However, its students are hoping the fees would be reduced soon, given that Rufus Giwa Polytechnic (RUGIPO), Owo has reduced fees. Phillip Anjorin, 200 Level student of Mass Communication, reports.
oyous celebration erupted among students of the Rufus Giwa Polytechnic, Owo (RUGIPO) when news of tuition fee reduction broke out in a circular by the management on August 16.
Sequel to this, students of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) are optimistic that the management would change its unyielding position on fees reduction.
RUGIPO students were paying N102,000 (non-indigenes) while the indigenes paid N92,000 before the reversal.
According to the circular, signed by the Director of Academic Affairs, Mr. Gbenga Ademiluyi, non-indigenes are to pay N86,000 and indigenes N77,600 from the 2019/2020 academic session.
CAMPUSLIFE learnt that a fee review committee has been set up for students of the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa after the students took to the street on April 20, to protest the high tuition fees. The action led to the suspension of academic activities for six weeks.
Meanwhile, AAUA students, as at the time of filing this report, had not received any news of steps towards the reduction of fees which were raised from N35,000 to between N100,000 and N150,000, depending on faculty.
Also, our reporter noted that a ‘status quo’ policy was enforced at the beginning of the 2018/2019 academic session which made the students pay the same amount they paid in previous session regardless of level.
In interviews with CAMPUSLIFE, students expressed varied opinions. Some were hoping that the reduction train would berth at AAUA soon while others were not so optimistic.
Lasisi Samuel, a 300-Level student of Banking and Finance, said the Students’ Union was wary of the management over fears that it can manipulate their results.
He said: “The Students’ Union is scared of the management. They are also students after all, so, they don’t want to miss what they primarily came here for, which is passing out with good grades. The fear that the management has the power to influence their grade is limiting the extent to which they can agitate for a reduction.”
He, however, believed that the tuition fee would be reduced as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, while seeking for a second term in office, would want to be in the good books of the masses, especially students.
He said: “AAUA’s tuition fee will definitely be reduced based on the fact that the Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, is contesting for a second term in the governorship election which will hold next year, by God’s grace. I am sure he will want to do things that will make him be in the good books of every citizen of Ondo State.
“Also, Dr. Tunji Abayomi will work towards the reduction to boost the governor’s chance and build a good image for him which will help him in retaining his position as the Pro-Chancellor of the university. But, I must say the students should not expect a drastic reduction.”
A 300-Level student of Educational Management, who simply identified herself as Iretioluwa, thinks AAUA students missed their chance to argue for fee reduction. She applauded Akeredolu’s predecessor Dr. Olusegun Mimiko-led administration for maintaining the previous tuition fee rates and making essential amenities accessible for the common masses.
She, however, berated the Students’ Union’s decision to gather the students together after the management had released the final resumption date. She believed that this made the students be at the mercy of the management and state government.
She said: “The Students’ Union calling for congress after resumption simply makes no sense. It simply placed the students in the hands of the management, which they put to good use by ensuring that the congress did not hold.
“Anyway, the probability of the governor winning the election, if it is a fair one, is extremely slim because there has been hike on lots of amenities which were previously at a subsidised price. Now, pregnant women are paying money before delivery; secondary school students are paying for WAEC and our own tuition fee has been increased, too. I have no choice but to commend the era of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko for making life easier during his administration.”
She further expressed dissatisfaction at the optimism of students during the six-week mid semester break. In her opinion, all hope is lost as far as the tuition fee is concerned.
“In the first instance, the students should not have resumed from the six-week break, so far as the result of the series of meetings held with the Governor was not disclosed then. The optimism of students at that time was high. But, unfortunately, it was a waste.
“As it is, all hope is lost because the Governor and the Pro-Chancellor are adamant about the fee. I see no possible change in our tuition fee”, she added.
Janet Etigwam, a 200-Level student of Accounting, thinks the Students’ Union did a yeoman’s job to fight for a reduction though their efforts did not yield any result.
“I watched the video where the President (Sampraise) went to Alagbaka House. Though people are seeing the funny side of it which led to the popular deriding slang ‘God Bless the President’, we must acknowledge the fact that he tried his best.
“The students also did all they could in their capability, even sacrificing six weeks for the struggle, thereby causing the previously set examination timetable to be shifted twice. It is just that the government is stubborn and adamant and it is their intention to afflict the students. At the end, we all have to agree to the government’s plan and lay low. We cannot say anything for now because we do not know what is happening underneath but we are all placing our hopes in God,” she said.
A 400-Level student of Mass Communication, Godspower Olorunsaanumi, politically known as Baba Shade who is contesting for the Presidential seat of the Students’ Union Government urged the parents and stakeholders to step into the matter as he stated that the Students’ Union cannot fight the battle alone.
He said, “The issue needs to be revisited. The fee has been causing a lot of problems for parents and students. There is hope it can be reduced if the right people can employ the right channel at the right time. Until our parents and major stakeholders in the state wage into the matter, there is nothing the Students’ Union can do.”
He further stressed that some of the promises made when the fee was hiked cannot be met because the payment turnout was low. He advised the incoming administration to seek sponsorship or partnership from the private sector as the government alone cannot fund the University effectively.
“Some of the suggestions made by the management and government like free Wi-Fi for all students, increased wages for Students Work-Study Scheme workers (SWSS) and others cannot be met because you cannot compare the percentage of students who pay when the fee was hiked to those who pay when the fee was still low and you have to consider the economic situation of the country too.
“My advice is that they should think out of the box and also know that government alone can’t fund education. We need investments from the private sector too.”
The effect of the tuition fee increment is also telling on the students and residents of Akoko area who previously choose AAUA to further their academics.
Bidemi Samson, a student residing in Ikaram-Akoko who recently completed his secondary school education, disclosed that most students in Akoko axis no longer pick Adekunle Ajasin University as their first choice institution because of the hike in the tuition fee. Though it is inconvenient for the students and their guardians/parents, it is a better option schooling in other less expensive institutions than the amount they pay at AAUA.
“Before the fees got increased, most students who graduated from secondary schools in Akoko often choose AAUA as their first choice. But now, not everybody can afford N150,000. We have to pick a university that is not in Ondo State. The closeness and proximity to family and friends that we previously have access to is no longer there. It hurts though but we have no other choice. We will go school. I can only beg the government and everybody involved in the decision-making process to please consider the fact that this increment is having an effect on us who are not even students of AAUA at this moment.”
Madam Mathew, an octogenarian Landlady of a student residential off-campus villa pleaded with the government to reduce the fees. According to her, students are finding it hard to pay house rents ever since the fee was increased and this has adversely affected house owners in the area.
“Sometimes when I want to get my house rent money from my tenants and they are complaining. I have no choice but to consider them. It is not easy to pay N150,000 school fees and still find it easy to pay house rent. Some of them have practical they pay large sums for, materials to buy and feeding too. We all know what the economy is saying. So I will beg the government to remember that the decision made is affecting house owners and traders too. Our dear Governor should please help to reduce the fees that the students are paying to make the burden bearable for the students”, she said.
In an interview with our correspondent, Irewole Alli also known as Delano, the Chief Press Secretary to the Students’ Union President said the Sampraise-Led administration was able to achieve a lot despite the various obstacles faced in his period.
He said, “The major challenge we faced was the status quo policy which made students pay what they paid the previous session. But despite that, the administration was still able to achieve things.
“No student is paying any faculty due compared to previous years. Take Law faculty for example, we previously pay N7,500 and N3,500 for faculty and departmental due. Also, I must inform you that no department is paying above N1,000 as their departmental due, which shows that it has been substantially reduced. We had to make negotiations as we are aware of the current economic situation in Nigeria generally. Faculty of Science pays N40,000 previously for their field trip. We reduced it by 50 per cent.
“The portal was open for a full session without any late payment fee. Students who have not paid their tuition fee are writing exams without any harassment. There are more shuttle buses now and they are properly organised. We really did lots of things visible and non-visible to the student populace”, he said.
He further disclosed that the street protest strategy was put on hold to ensure the safety of the students. He said the struggle for the reduction was not over as there were plans on ground that will be useful for the next administration.
“As regards the tuition fee, we tried our best, though for now it is without result. We went into extensive negotiation with the Governor for three days during which we were told that the final say resides with the Governing Council headed by the University’ Pro-Chancellor, Dr. Tunji Abayomi. During the six weeks strike, we had to organise meetings with him at his residence both in Akure and Akoko.
“Unfortunately, he did not see reasons with us and stood his ground that we were paying a justifiable amount. We took it upon ourselves to initiate meetings with the decision makers after the students involved in the protest were harshly treated because we care about their safety and welfare. We tried to be diplomatic with them but all is to no avail.
“Anyway, plans are already in place by the current administration such that even if the mission cannot be completed during this tenure, the next tenure will be able to see the plans and try to actualize it so as to make schooling easier for the students”, he said.
Our reporter observed that students are allowed to pay tuition fees twice in a session to make the payment easier. Also, the policy of ‘No payment, no Exam’ which propelled the students’ protest on April 20 has been abolished which enabled the students to write their exams without fear of being sent out.
Dr. Olusegun Owolewa, the Dean of Students’ Affairs further informed our reporter that no counter measures would be taken to hasten the students towards paying the fees, despite the negligence shown by then.