The President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, has issued a dire warning about the potential consequences of arbitrary increases in school fees by Nigerian universities. During an interview on Channels TV, Prof Osodeke emphasized that if the federal government does not intervene to curb these fee hikes, 40 to 50 per cent of students could be forced to drop out within the next two to three years.
The ASUU leader criticized universities for raising fees and argued that the government should be implementing policies to make education more accessible rather than driving students away. He highlighted the incongruity of imposing high fees on students in an environment where the minimum wage is just N30,000 per month, making it challenging for them to afford education while also covering living expenses.
Prof Osodeke expressed his concerns, stating, “If nothing is done about these heavy fees being introduced by schools all over the country, in the next two or three years, more than 40 to 50 per cent of these children who are in school today will drop out.”
He warned that the nation could face serious problems when a significant portion of its youthful population is out of school, potentially becoming targets for recruitment by groups seeking to destabilize the country.
The ASUU president called for a return to the educational environment of the 1960s and 1970s, emphasizing the importance of creating conditions that allow children from low-income families to access education.
Regarding government funding for education, he urged the government to allocate at least 15 per cent of the total budget to education, highlighting the inadequacy of the 3.8 per cent allocated in the last budget. He argued that increasing budgetary allocation to education would alleviate the financial burden on parents and students.
Furthermore, Prof Osodeke criticized the government’s student loan policy, stating that it may not be effective. He suggested a review of the policy, possibly transforming it into a grant, as many students might not meet the stringent requirements for loans.
He particularly noted the harsh condition that mandates parents’ annual income to be less than N500,000 for students to access the loan, questioning how many people actually fall into that income bracket.
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