In a growing concern that has sent shockwaves throughout the Nigerian education system, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has raised alarm bells regarding the recent surge in tuition fees imposed by universities across the nation.
ASUU fears that this substantial fee hike could potentially force a significant number of students to abandon their pursuit of higher education, casting a shadow over the future of the country’s youth.
In recent months, a multitude of public universities have unilaterally increased their tuition fees, citing the dire economic realities facing the nation as their rationale. Although some of these institutions have eventually yielded to pressure following student protests, the overall trend remains unsettling.
Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the National President of ASUU, voiced his deep concerns during a recent appearance on Channels Television’s “Sunday Politics.”
He expressed apprehension that the exorbitant fees could place an insurmountable financial burden on parents and guardians, many of whom are already grappling with the challenges of subsisting on a minimum wage of N30,000 per month, compounded by soaring rent and transportation costs.
“Today, universities are arbitrarily increasing tuition fees,” Professor Osodeke decried. “Is that correct in an environment today where the minimum wage is N30,000 per month and where they have to pay rent and pay heavily for transportation? And you are enforcing this thing on the students?
“As a result of this – I can assure you that you can check if nothing is done about this heavy fee being introduced all over the country today – in the next two or three years, more than 40 to 50 percent of these students who are in school would drop out.”
The ASUU president further warned that if such a scenario were to unfold, these disenfranchised students might become susceptible pawns in the hands of those seeking to destabilize the country. He pleaded for the recreation of an educational environment akin to that of the ’60s and ’70s, when the government provided stipends to students.
“When I was a student, the government was paying me for being a student. Let’s have an environment where the children of the poor can have access to education, not closing them off. If you say school fees of N300,000, how can the children of somebody who earns N50,000 a month be able to pay such a fee?” Professor Osodeke asked.
In an effort to remedy this concerning situation, Professor Osodeke urged the Federal Government to substantially increase its educational budget. He proposed raising the budget allocation to at least 15 percent, a significant leap from the previous year’s meager 3.8 percent allocation.
Such an increase, he believes, would help alleviate the financial strain on students and their families, ensuring that education remains accessible to all, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
As this issue continues to reverberate across the nation, concerned stakeholders await the response of the Federal Government and hope for swift actions to prevent a potential educational crisis and safeguard the future of Nigeria’s youth.