Following the ASUU’s long-term strike action’s resumption, Nigerian federal government-run universities students have yet again encountered academic challenges. Most universities have increased tuition from between 100 to 200 percent, which has left some students distraught. Some impoverished students may be forced to drop out, while others may have to defer their education for at least a year. Nonetheless, academic institutions have blamed the rise in tuition fees on the lack of funding from the government.
Institutions also blame the continuous rising inflation in the country, which has skyrocketed to 21.47 percent, the highest in 17 years – in November 2022. Among the universities that have announced the increment include the University of Uyo in Akwa Ibom state, the Federal University of Lafia in Nasarawa state, Michael Okpara the University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia state, the Federal University, Dutse, in Jigawa state and the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in Borno state, among others.
Dutse university announced a 200% increase in tuition.
In a document dated December 2022 and signed by the university’s Deputy Registrar (Academics), Kamal Habib Muhammad, the administration of Federal University, Dutse, announced a 200 percent increase in tuition. However, it specified that payments might be split into two halves and that employees’ children would be eligible for reductions. Meanwhile, Linda Jimoh, a student in the varsity department of political science, laments the increment. She said the initial charge of NGN37,000 was tough to pay, and that the current amount of NGN97,000 is much more so.
Additionally, UNIMAID said in a message to students that the rise is due to market factors driving up the expense of teaching and learning materials, as well as laboratory consumables and reagents. As stated in the paper, the decision to charge international students an extra US$1,500 in tuition was made by the university’s governing council during its 157th meeting on December 1, 2022. Ibrahim Ismail, a 300-level English and Literary Studies major, expressed his displeasure with the school’s 100% increase in tuition.
NANS sought President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention.
Furthermore, the increase comes as the country’s poverty levels rise owing to soaring inflation and increasing unemployment. NBS reports that 133 million, or almost half of Nigeria’s 206 million people, are in multidimensional poverty. Also, the World Bank reported in March 2022 that four out of every ten Nigerians live below the national poverty level. The vast majority of Nigerians choose to take advantage of significantly reduced tuition at federally funded universities. A study from 2022 estimates that 1,206,825 (65%) of the total 1,854,288 students that have enrolled in federal government universities, 544,936 (29%) in state universities, and 102,500 (6%) in private universities.
In response to the issue, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has slammed the increment and sought President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene before things get out of hand. In a letter to Buhari sent at the beginning of January, NANS expressed concerns that the majority of students attending public institutions come from low-income households and would thus struggle to pay the higher tuition. The universities are not only heartless but also callous to the predicament of their students, it added.
Government had previously considered raising tuition fees.
While commenting on the situation, Professor Salihu Moyosore Ajao, chairman of the University of Ilorin chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), claimed that the government had previously considered raising tuition fees to address the inadequate funding of universities, but the idea was rejected by the union. Prof. Ajao said that the union has repeatedly opposed the commercialization of the educational system, notably at the country’s higher institutions, but that the union’s actions were misconstrued as being antagonistic against the government.