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Controversy as Kaduna varsity fees unsettle parents, students

The recent decision of the Kaduna State Government to raise school fees of university students by over 500 per cent has caused serious concern among…

The recent decision of the Kaduna State Government to raise school fees of university students by over 500 per cent has caused serious concern among students and parents, Daily Trust  findings show.

AbdulMalik Sa’idu’s excitement knew no bounds when he saw his name among those offered admission into the Kaduna State University a few weeks ago. The young resident of Kaduna State had hoped that being the first member of his family to secure admission into the university, his future was already brighter than most. His parents were equally excited and his father, a retired public servant had been ready with the school fees of less than N30,000 for his son’s first session.

Abdulmalik, who secured admission to study Chemistry Education in the Faculty of Education at KASU said he believed it was a stepping stone to his dream of becoming a graduate and the first in his family.

However, Abdulmalik said he was dumfounded during the registration process when he learnt that what should have been less than N30,000 as tuition fee had more than tripled. With the new tuition fees said to be N150,000 per session at the moment, Abdulmalik said his dreams may be affected. “I was sad when I heard of the increment because my father who’s sponsoring my education retired years ago. He is only struggling with the little he has to take care of the entire family,” he said.

“If my father doesn’t find the money to pay, I may have to defer the admission till next year or apply to another institution; maybe a polytechnic or a Federal University,” he told our correspondent.

Muhammad Aliyu, another fresher from Niger State but a resident of Kaduna State, said he was asked to pay N200,000 instead of the original N36,500 he thought he was ready to pay. According to him, the new fees had scared him when he logged into the school portal to make payment and discovered he was expected to pay N200,000 as tuition fee. “My father is a retiree and has asked me to wait on the basis that maybe the increment will be reversed by the management. If they reduce it, fine, if they do not then he will look for the money to pay because my education is very important to him,” he said.

Abdulmalik and Muhammad are only two of several other students that secured admission into the state university with similar complain about the fees increment. However, returning students also say the fees increment for fresh students have left them agitated as they fear that the school management was likely to increase their own fees also.

“We are very much concerned too,” said Aliyu Abubakar, a 300 Level student of KASU. “As returning students though; they have not yet announced our fees, but we felt the increment for the fresh students may be applicable to us in the long run,” he said.

Aliyu added that “I come from a poor family that struggled to pay the old tuition fees and with the new increment, only God can help me to complete my education.” He said having lost his father five years ago, he’s had to take up menial jobs to foot his school fees, transportation to school from Tudun Wada community of Kaduna State and other bills.

Because of its low tuition fee and location within Kaduna city centre, Daily Trust Saturday gathered that KASU had over the years become a very attractive choice for young students seeking admission into the university, especially among indigent families.  This is why Fatima Ibrahim, whose daughter chose the school as her first choice in the 2021 JAMB exams said she regretted the decision after hearing about the fee increment.

“To tell you the truth, I should have allowed her to select a federal university where they charge less tuition fee because with the new increment in KASU, if she gets the admission, I don’t know if we can afford it.”

But, there may be a ray of hope as the school’s Students Union in a later addressed to the Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, appealed to him to reconsider the decision, saying majority of the students attending the institution were from poor backgrounds.

“From the Students Union level, we are fully abreast of a number of students that are assisted every session with financial support to cope and we are afraid they cannot afford the current fees,” the union stated.

They stressed that if the new fee was implemented, majority of the students will not only drop out of school but will constitute a menace to the society. They claimed the state’s scholarship scheme has not contributed much to the students because since its inception, not many students have benefited from the state.

Review of school fees at consultation stage – School management

As news of the school fees increment circulated on social media, the management of KASU was left with no option but to issue a bulletin to clarify the issue in an attempt to douse tension within the university community and the state in general.

According to the management, the upward review of the tuition fees is at the consultation stage with stakeholders and therefore yet to take effect.

Justifying their reasons for a review however, the management said available records showed that the sum of N400m was being spent monthly which is a cumulative N4.8bn annually by the state government on payment of salaries for staff. The management stated that a monthly overhead grand of N25m is also expended in a university that generates an annual sum of N765,855,671.00 as IGR.

They claimed that in the year 2020, there was allocation of N10bn to the university meant for the execution of capital projects while the sum of N5bn was to recurrent (overhead and personnel costs).

The management also informed the students that the state government has set aside the sum of N2bn for loans at the state’s Scholarship and Loans Board for interested and qualified students to access as they equally hope to improve the quality of teaching and research activities as well as create a more conducive atmosphere for the students and staff.

75 percent of students may drop out of school – ASUU 

Reacting to the uproar caused by the increment, the KASU chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) kicked against the tuition fees increment, saying if implemented, 75 per cent of the university students may drop out of school.

The school’s ASUU Chairman, Dr Peter Adamu, in a signed statement alongside the acting Secretary, Silas Akos, said the university had over 19,000 students with more than 17,000 of them indigenous to the state. According to the union, 70 percent of the indigenous students were sons and daughters of peasant farmers, civil servants and petty traders.

“Worse still, the state government had sacked a good number of its workforce; among them are parents and guardians of our students. These people struggle everyday against the current economic downturn to pay the fees of their children. Raising school fees by over 500 percent will, without doubt, send thousands of the students out of school.”

The union said by taking such a stand, the school management was denying a significant majority of prospective students from entry into the institution, adding that this may have a devastating impact on the government’s quest to develop viable human capital in the state.

The ASUU chairman said the increase would further widen the existing gap between the rich and the poor, saying the consequences of the upward review would be unquantifiable, especially coming at a time when the streets are becoming unsafe due to spurge in thuggery, banditry and kidnappings.

Adamu said that the purported scholarship programme unveiled by the government was a smokescreen to justify the increase, he said data from the state’s Scholarship and Loans Board showed that between 2017 and 2020, only about 13.29 percent of the over 19,000 students benefited from the scholarship scheme. He added that in 2020, students were promised laptop loans for online lectures at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, but none of the students benefited.