By Alapa Peters Odugbo
Only last week, after the University of Ibadan’s release of the Undergraduates’ Schedule of Fees for the 2018/2019 Academic Session, several students took out their anger madly against the university’s management via different WhatsApp group pages, while maintaining that the management only sought to make life unbearable for their parents and wards upon whom the brunt of unjustified increment in school fees and accommodation levy always fall.
It will be recalled that just last year, UI’s accommodation level of #14,000 was raised to #30,000, which most students still regard as iniquitously outrageous, while most school fees especially in departments in the Faculty of Arts had a levy of #5000 for Field Trip included in that session.
As at last week, some students via WhatsApp said that a bed space in Ahmadu Bello University presumably one of the largest university in Nigeria go for #7090 per session, and #3090 in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) (all including bank charges) and that other Federal Universities in the country pay quite lesser compared to UI.
One of them a 400 Level male student from the Department of Political Science observed that it was not enough for the management to say that that management and maintenance of its halls of residence consume as close to what students pay for accommodation (when summed up) or even beyond.
Some of these students said that as the situation were, it is pretty obvious that UI Student Union was suspended prior to clear the coast and give the management the leeway to execute its ulterior plans unchallenged.
On the issue of the new #6500 Technology Levy increment for all Faculties, most students felt that it was totally out of place that that decision was taken without first consulting with the entity of the student body upon whom the impact is to fall.
A 300 Level female student in Religious Studies (name withheld) said:
“We were charged #5,000 for Field Trip last session. Our worries were quenched by the fact that the FieldTrip thing was a new innovation in the whole Faculty of Arts, except for Archaeology in whose case it is compulsory. We couldn’t wait for it to come. Most us were excited. But eventually we were all disappointed. Our monies disappeared into thin air. AFAS Press in her interview with the VC some time last year revealed that the VC said the levy was a social charge that came from Departments, and was not imposed by him or the Senate. Yes I read the interview. But on the contrary, some students said that when they approached the Department on the issue, it was as confused and lost and we were”.
One other student also said:
” I don’t know what this Technology Levy is all about, but feel it’s a big joke that the management is deciding for us without our opinion. Besides, if they claim it’s for WiFi , #6, 500 is too big, given the number of students UI has. I think #2,500 is fair”.
A group of students who seem to share a similar view, with one of them reitreating the others’, observes,
“What if your parents don’t have it to pay, you leave school? I pity those in MBBS. I shed tears when their fees and medical whatsoever were raised to the high heavens. Could that be the only way out? That is a huge sabotage to Awolowo and our fore fathers’ dreams to make education free-of-charge for the haves and have-nots. I think those who know what it means by being educated shouldn’t be found squashing the opportunity for poor students”.
Other reactions include:
“I think it’s just unnecessary and an act of extortion. The only reason I think we should pay for that is if they intend introducing a practical technology course at all levels with the necessary gadgets”, said a 300L female student from the Department of English.
“Like, why are they extorting us?… What’s the money meant for? What’s the meaning of technology fee?” another female student in 400 lamented that initially she had not thought the Levy was to cut across all Faculties.
“This is pure extortion o… #6500 tan. So they can’t charge fee for ID card again na technology fee they’re collecting now. Something needs to be done, sincerely. But who dare talk, persecution of students is the order of the day here”.
A 500 Level female student in Law said:
“I think it is ambiguous, and imposing; no explanation and boom it’s there. Nothing to even contradict that: it’s not what we think or to state that it is indeed what we thought it is. Disrespectful something”.
“It is very much absurd”, a 400 Level Male student in Computer Science said.
Another 400 Level male student from the Department of Archaeology adds:
“It makes no sense to me, I think it’s just an irrelevant fee (like the SU fees we paid last year even though there wasn’t any SU).The management owes us an explanation”.
One other 400 Level student in English Department said:
“Personally it’s an academic Yahoo Yahoo move by the authorities to extort money from poor students. What is it meant for? And to what benefits is it to students? I wish the authorities can give a plausible answer to the questions above”.
“₦6, 500 seems to be outrageously sudden. This is another effort of the management to get the school fees increased. I’m beginning to think this should now be expected yearly.
We can only hope this isn’t another increment in fee without any obvious significance even after payment. We can only hope we get cogent justification for the inclusion of the fee with time, and not like previous increments in recent times”, said a 400 Level male student from the Faculty of Law.
Similarly, several 200 Level students from across different Faculties of the University had pleaded with the university to withdraw the Levy in the interest of all, since not everyone had need for WiFi, and that times were hard for parents to pay school fees and accommodation Levies, including other levies make situation complex.
Likewise, a good number of students from the Faculty of Technology said that they had no idea what the Technology Levy means, hitherto they had paid nothing of such, and felt it would be essential for the university management to clear the air forthwith.
On the contrary, there were equally a good number of students who had felt that the Technology innovation underway could be of immense benefit to students, albeit their position was based on speculations given that none of them could tell what shape or form the innovation would take.
One of them, a 400 Level Female student from the Department of Communication and Language Art said:
“I am yet to understand the reason for this levy. I want to be believe it is one of the tactics employed by the management to generate funds for the institution since the body(FG) in charge of that has failed over time. However, whatever reason that may have necessitated this technology levy, I still believe the management owe the students an explanation.”
Another 400 Level male student from Educational Management observes:
“I count this a privilege. Anyway, if the technology fee is introduced for the use of technology-based tools, then it will be of great advantage to the university education. If for the above reason, the technology fee is introduced by the management, then, I encourage UI students to pay with no complaints since it is for our good academically. It will improve teaching and learning processes in the system”.
However, he had sought that Final Year Students be exempted from paying the Levy since they would have little time to enjoy it, and adds,
“..considering the increment in school fees in the previous session which has led to the payment of large amount of money by some faculties, the introduction of this technology fee could be unfavourable to everyone”.
In this category, some had lauded the management for planning in the direction of providing a 24/7 wireless internet service for students on campus, that with time it will become a blessing everyone would adore, given that most universities in the country had forged ahead technologically over the years while UI is left lagging behind.
One of them, a male 300 Level student from the Faculty of Education said,
“There is nothing wrong with that. I think they have future plans, let’s keep our heads down for now”.
Most importantly, when the VC’s opinion was sought via WhatsApp he had said the levy was to cover the huge expenses of providing a fast, reliable robust internet service for students as from the forth-coming 2018/2019 Academic on, and that that will require a whole lot in terms of funds.
His full reply:
“We are committed to providing fast, reliable and robust internet services to students.
The University is opening up internet access to students on campus (to a capped volume per student per semester/session). As such there is on-going investment on additional network infrastructure/ bandwidth.
The bandwidth is projected to be increased in the first instance from the present 475 to 775 Mbps.
It is worth mentioning that the bandwidth increase will be dedicated to the new student network.
The bandwidth cost will grow from N64M to about N100M. This is excluding other required network infrastructural upgrade”.