Protests greet tuition hike in Babcock varsity

More protests and indignation have continued to trail the decision of the Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State, to increase its tuition.

Citing harsh economic realities, authorities at the university had, at a meeting held with representatives of parents and students’ bodies on Monday, announced a new tuition regime for fresh and returning students for the 2015/2016 academic session.

It was gathered that while Law students who were paying N870,000 (with two meals a day), have now been mandated to pay N1.5m; medical students who were paying N2m per session, now have to pay N3m.

It was also gathered that components of the school fees included accommodation, tuition, feeding and other sundry charges.

However, students and parents have greeted the news with objections and disapprovals on the social media.

A stakeholder, who attended the meeting, told our correspondent on the condition of anonymity that what the university proposed as tuition was higher than what was released.

While lamenting the plight of some parents, whom the source said were from states that have not paid salaries in months, the source 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.

Babcock University is owned by the church.

“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,” said the source.

A parent, Mrs. Toun Aderele, whose daughter is a Law student, also decried the timing of the announcement. She asked the school to reverse the decision.

“My daughter is studying Law at the university and I paid N870,000 last session. We opted for two meals per day plan because she was always having early morning lectures. The previous information was that the fees have been increased to N917,000. But as at yesterday, (Tuesday), we understood that there was a meeting where the fees have been increased to N1.5m, less than two weeks before resumption. We are not in support and the students are counting on us because they are handicapped, ’’ she said.

However, in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, the university’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Mr. Joshua Sulaiman, told our correspondent that the decision to review tuition was done with input from representatives of the university’s students and parents.

He added that 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 denounced protesting parents and students, hinting 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, told our correspondent that he was not in a position to comment on the issue.

Another member who attended the meeting, Dr. Abiodun Osiyemi, told our correspondent on the telephone 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.