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Anger and concern that university’s 200% hike in tuition fees could result in many students dropping out

9 January 2023
Reading time: 6 minutes

Parents are aghast, angry and concerned – and students are threatening to protest against the 200% hike in tuition fees announced recently by the University of Maiduguri.

Suleiman Muhammad Sarki, the vice-president special duties of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), said in a statement that the hike could force some of the students who were internally displaced persons (IDPs) and less privileged in the society to drop out of university.

Sarki told journalists that the “mother of all protests” would follow if the management of the university did not return to the previous tuition fees.

He said the hike could result in a large number of Nigerian students turning to “insurgency, banditry and kidnapping”, as they would have no other option than to drop out of university because of their inability to pay the astronomical fees.

“Students who are unable to pay the new fees might end up becoming dropouts and this will add to the rising number of youth restiveness in Nigeria, which could in turn increase the number of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers that abound.”

He told journalists that the students were pleading with the government, elder statesmen, relevant stakeholders in the educational sector, traditional rulers, ulama and priests to intervene and prevail on the governing councils to rescind their decision on the hike in fees.

“I, for example, last year paid ₦29,830 but this year it has skyrocketed to about ₦74,000,” he said. “I don’t have the money to pay for this. I might have to quit my studies.”

Sarki said NANS had issued a week’s ultimatum to the management of the University of Maiduguri to rescind its decision or face a massive protest across the country.

RNI reporter Aisha SD Jamal spoke to some of the students at the university.

Ali Ahmad, a student in the department of statistics, said: “The increment in registration fees is a problem – the amount has tripled and it’s hard on us and our parents. Many cannot afford It and others are intending to drop out because there is nothing else they can do.

“It’s not just the tuition fees,” Ahmad said, “transport and learning materials have also increased. If the authorities do not do something about it, it is likely that many students might drop out and will be on the streets and might turn to stealing or doing drugs instead. This will affect the whole community. They might even be tempted or lured into joining the insurgents or groups of bandits.”

Fatima Wakil, a student in the department of linguistics, said: “The hike has hit us hard. We might not be able to continue because the fees are so high and many of us come from poor homes. Our parents are already struggling to pay for our education. Our parents give up lots so that we can get an education. The authorities know this and yet they still put up the fees, which has tripled. I don’t have hope anymore.”

Mala Alhaji Baba, a parent, said: “I pay for three of my children who are studying at the university. To do this, we have to give up other things. We even cut out important things just to sponsor their education. We don’t buy new clothes, we don’t eat healthy and expensive food. We spend most of our money on their education but, with the fees tripling, we will no longer be able to afford to educate them. We just don’t have that sort of money.

“If this is what a public university will cost, it means hardly anyone will be able to afford to give their children a quality education.”

Baba said his advice was that young people look at other means of making a living and learning new skills, adding that for most families tertiary education for their children would become a thing of the past.

Abubakar Adamu, a lecturer at the University of Maiduguri, said: “Knowledge is key and it gives importance to our very existence – it differentiates our minds from those of animals.

“To achieve development and peace – especially in a region like Borno, which was hit so badly by the Boko Haram [Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād or JAS] insurgency – knowledge is key. Without it, many youths fall victim to the lure of the insurgents because they are ignorant and have not been properly educated.

“Our leaders in the academic field have told the government and stakeholders that money is needed to be invested in knowledge because of its importance. The education system needs a boost. That was one of the reasons we academics embarked on the months-long strike last year. We wanted to ensure equal and qualitative education for all, but our efforts did not pay off. That is the reason for the hike in the tuition fees; the universities did not have any other option.

“Parents have often complained about the increase in tuition fees. They say they cannot afford to pay and that this is a threat to the community and the education system. Many students might drop out of university because their parents cannot afford the fees. This could mean some will join the insurgents and the relative peace we have now will be destroyed. This will affect the whole of society.”

Adamu said it had taken 13 long years to restore peace to the area. But he warned that if students dropped out there was a chance they would be lured by insurgents and peace would be wrecked and the insurgency would rise again.

“We could go back to what it was like during the insurgency, which is something that is too dreadful to even contemplate.

“The public should understand that all lecturers want is for everyone to have the chance to get a quality education. There are already thousands of children on the streets without an education. If authorities do not look into the matter critically and take this seriously then it’s likely that even those with a formal education might be forced to drop out too.”


About the author

Aisha Sd Jamal