The recently increment in tuition at Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State has continue to generate tension and protests among students and parents. The authorities of university had, at a meeting held with representatives of parents and students’ bodies recently, announced a new tuition regime for fresh and returning students for the 2015/2016 academic session. The UNION investigation revealed that Law students who were paying N870,000 ,with just two meals a day are to pay N1.5m,while medical students who were paying N2m per session, now have to pay N3m. The UNION also gathered that the school fees include accommodation, tuition, feeding and other sundry charges. However, students and parents have greeted the news with objections and disapprovals on the social media and even physical protest.
A stakeholder, who attended the meeting, and spoke to The Union on the condition of anonymity, said that that what the university proposed as tuition was higher than what was released. She said some of them were from states where worker have not been paid salaries for several months. She also alleged that majority of the beneficiaries of the funds instituted by the Association of Babcock Students Union were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, the owner of Babcock University. “We understand that the economy is bad. But there are states where salaries have not been paid for months. Majority of the students who applied for the funds instituted to support indigent students who cannot complete their tuitions were members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The school ended the third week of April and now we have this last minute announcement,” she said. A parent, Mr. Oguchukwu Agiah , whose son is a medical student, condemned the timing of the announcement and urged the university to reverse the decision for the good of the students and the nation. The university’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Mr. Joshua Sulaiman, said the decision to review tuition was done with input from representatives of the university’s students and parents. According to him, the authorities at the institution were left with no option but to increase the tuition following the harsh operating environment in the country.
“For five years, the university had not increased tuition in any way. This is the first time we are making some adjustments. Just look at the economic reality in our country. The cost of services is going up. Some months ago, a dollar exchanged for N197, the unofficial rate right now is N220. I don’t even know which bank will sell dollars or pounds to you right now. That is why the Federal Government summoned the Central Bank of Nigerian over the inflationary trend. The Federal Government is also battling with it, ’’ he said.
Sulaiman also condemned protesting parents and students, saying that they might not be genuine stakeholders in the university’s affairs. “In a twist however, executives of the Parents Consultative Forum and the Association of the Babcock Student Union, have dissociated themselves from the outcome of the meeting. While the Treasurer of the PCF, Mr. Sunday Adedokun, who was said to be at the meeting said was not in a position to comment on the issue. Another member who attended the meeting, who never wanted his name on print said that attendees were not aware of the agendum until they got to the meeting.
“I want you to have it on record that we are not the university. The Parents’ Council is not responsible for the fixing and determining of tuition. We were only informed of what they wanted to do. To say there was no resolution will be wrong, but to say that parents and students went to fix a fee will not be right. They had a plan, and when we got there we got to know what it was all about. Yes, they did invite us and we have no right to say they should not do what they wanted to do, ’’ he said. Meanwhile, the President, ABSU, Kako Mavalla, has urged students to maintain a peaceful protest. “Everybody knows the economy is bad. We are doing our best to represent the interest of the students. We should remain civilised. I encourage them to express their feelings in a matured manner,” he said.