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Students, lawyers raise concern over hike in Law School fees

“I have been trying to save N300,000 to apply for admission into Law School since I graduated two years ago only to see that the…

I have been trying to save N300,000 to apply for admission into Law School since I graduated two years ago only to see that the fee has been hiked to almost N500,000, so my going to law school will now depend on a miracle,” an intending Law School student, who gave his name as David, said.

David, who lamented that the increase has already jeopardised his chances of going to Law School any time soon, said he would continue to hustle to see that he secured a better life.

While noting that he doesn’t mind travelling out because it seems like this country is getting harder than expected, he urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to intervene to help average Nigerians acquire the necessary education.

David is not the only law graduate who is planning to go to Law School but for the constraint or high fees, has to stay home until they have the requirement to process their admission.

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However, with a recent memo released by the Nigerian Law School which contained an increase in fees, many prospective Law School students have raised concern over the hike following the harsh economic situation in the country.

The fee, which was N295,000, was increased to N476,000 for law graduates seeking to attend the Nigerian Law School.

 The school, in a circular signed by the Director General, Isa Hayatu Chiroma, announced the new schedule of the fees for Bar II candidates as approved by the Council of Legal Education.

The school announced N10,000 for tuition and hostel accommodation, N45,000 for 3-term dinners, N30,000 for 2 cocktails, N35,000 for library development, N8,000 sports and recreation, N45,000 for Bar II examination, N45,000 for Students Handbook and CD-ROM Course Materials, and N4,000 for ID card.

The circular also showed that postage and courier were put at N4,000, medical services N30,000, another N30,000 for internet and communication services,  N10,000 for insurance, N20,000 for externship materials and portfolio assessment, N35,000 for facilities maintenance and cleaning, N50,000 for security services, N65,000 for electricity and power and N10,000 for the student’s yearbook.

Meanwhile, observers have said the increase in fees is prohibitive as it represents almost a 100 per cent hike.

An intending Law School student, Musa Haruna Bawa, said the increase in fees is not necessary considering the situation of the country. He said people are struggling to pay N295,000.

“If you break down the schedule of payments, some are justifiable while others are not. For example, tuition and hostel/accommodation are vital since you have to leave home or state, as the case may be, and stay in a hostel. Also, dinner and exams, which are important for maintenance, are all justifiable and unchallengeable by any reasonable person,” he said.

He further said the security services which cost N50,000 are uncalled for considering that they do not provide the security needed by students, noting that there have been reported cases of insecurity in the axis of the campus, which leave students in fear.

“Some campuses, if not all, are like a garden or zoo of snakes, as some of our senior colleagues told us, which is part of the security of students. Though the snakes have not bitten anyone yet, many leave in fear of seeing snakes around the compound where they reside,” he said.

While noting that students at the Law School are not finding it easy with issues like power supply and other necessities which make up part of the payments, he said levy for sport and recreational development was unnecessary.

“Internet or ICT costs of N30,000 is high considering that many students are using their phones or modem to get data services and to get any information they need and that costs so much, yet they added the fee,” he said.

He, however, appealed to the federal government to revert the admission fee to what it was last session, which many have saved up and are hoping to pay.

“And if possible, to be as low as N295,000 as the president recently claimed that in his administration, no student would drop out of school,” he added. 

He however said alternatively, the state governments have to help students with scholarships. “I know in my state (Kano), the present government has assured us, they’ll pay for us since we even filed out the necessary documents in the State Scholarship Board. We have been screened for the process of payment/refund after we duly paid on our own.”

He noted that the present government, before their four months in office, had paid for about 45 students who are currently on their various campuses. 

“We are therefore calling for the attention of state governments to help pay for us,” he said.

Another law student, Hauwa Ahmad Muhammad, said even when the fee was N295,000, some students aspiring to go to the Law School couldn’t afford it, adding that was why many law graduates spent years struggling to gather the fees.

“Given the economic challenges, it is necessary for the government to reassess and mitigate the financial burden on aspiring law students, perhaps through subsidy programmes or other financial support to ensure that access to legal education is not unduly restricted,” she said.

Hauwa also noted that the inclusion of fees for medical, internet and other services in the law school registration reflects an evolving landscape, saying that while it may contribute to a more comprehensive educational experience, it’s essential for the authorities to ensure transparency and reconsideration of the fee breakdown and ease any increases.

“A thorough assessment should be carried out to consider the necessity and reasonableness of these additional charges, especially in light of the economic challenges in the country at large.

“We all know how things are; Nigerians are going through a lot, especially the students,” she said.

According to a lawyer, who simply identified himself as Chuka, the fee was an initial N240,000 paid one-time.

Barrister Hameed Ajibola Jimoh said it is too expensive for the children of the poor to afford.

“With the current economic challenges, we were pressing for a reduction of the former fee and this came up,” he said.

“It is discriminatory against the poor and should be reduced because Law School is a one-year programme. They inculcate whatever fee of the Law School into the university curriculum to save time for legal education.”

In his reaction, Kelechi Udeoyibo Esq. said it was a way of depriving brilliant but indigent law graduates. 

“The reality is that after you pay this much and you come out from Law School, it is not that there is any job out there waiting for you.

“The Council of Legal Education has the power to set the fee but with the current public criticism of the policy, we expect that the fees could be reviewed downward,” he said.

An official of the Law School, who pleaded anonymity, said the increase in tuition fees is not the fault of the school but of the current economic situation and the rising cost of items in the country.

 

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