The University of Lagos says the increase in obligatory fees is not intended to stop indigent students from accessing quality education.
The Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, made the assertion at a virtual news conference on Saturday night in Lagos, where she explained why it would be difficult to return the fees to the former rates.
In a statement issued on August 21, the institution announced an adjustment in obligatory fees of students, saying the adjustment, which would take effect from the first semester of the 2023/2024 academic session, was in view of the prevailing economic realities and the need for the university to be able to meet its obligation to its students, staff and municipal service providers, among others.
It further noted that the mandatory charges for one academic session for new undergraduate students would be N126,325 for courses without laboratory/studio and N176,325 for courses with laboratory and studio while returning students would pay N100,750 for courses without laboratory and studio, and N140,250 for courses with laboratory and studio.
Reacting to the development, students of the university embarked on a peaceful protest on September 6, to register their displeasure over the hike in fees.
Ogunsola, explaining the position of the institution concerning the hike, said the move was necessary for the university to meet its mandates as it could no longer do so with what the charges used to be for over 15 years now.
According to her, high electricity tariffs, the cost of conducting examinations and verifying results, accreditation of courses as well as maintenance of key infrastructure in the university annually are some of the concerns that gave rise to the review of the obligatory fees.
She said, “There has been this call for us to return the fees to status quo and we want to share why this could be a little bit difficult. We are of the belief that even those who do not have a lot of money deserve quality education. We are having bills to pay, which informs why we are where we are and why we need to adjust.
“The universities are for our children. What quality of education do we want to bequeath to them? All we are doing is to ensure that they are not disenfranchised in the job market. It is not an emotional thing; it is about what we need to do to survive and remain relevant.”
Ogunsola added that the University of Lagos prides itself in qualitative education and research outputs, noting that the management feels the pain of the students.
“We feel the pains too, even as management of the university, because we are also parents. We have our children here too. But truth be told, we cannot continue to go the way we are going if we truly want to give our students the best and equip them with 21st-century skills.
“The increase in the obligatory fees is not targeted at stopping indigent students from accessing quality education. The challenge I see is that we have to look at universities from all angles, especially with the current economic crunch in the country.
“My question now too is, how do we get the things we need to acquire this quality education? Somebody has to pay for it. This whole issue is not only about UNILAG. Lots of other federal universities in the country have also reviewed their fees and even higher at that, just to ensure that they remain relevant.
“I have no issue with students protesting peacefully, but I have issues with violent protest. Part of protest is about how students express critical thinking, and that is encouraged. I know it will not sound strange to you to understand that as we speak, some secondary schools charge even higher than the current review.
“Having said all these though, I want to assure that none of our students will drop out of school because of the current hike in obligatory fees.”
She added that the university is in talks with prominent members of the society on the need for them to adopt a student for sponsorship in the institution, noting that already, some persons had indicated interest in the initiative. (NAN)