Ahead of the 2023/2024 academic calendar year, the management of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, has announced new fees payable by both the new undergraduate and returning students.
The new fee regime, which ranges between N120,750 and N240,250 depending on the courses of study and levels, was announced on Friday in a statement issued by the university management, a copy of which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES by the Head of the Communication Unit, Adejoke Alaga-Ibraheem.
But the university said it has measures in place to assist “genuine indigent” students, noting that it has data of the concerned students and would “continue to make provision for their survival through those measures.”
The development is coming at a time Nigerians are lamenting the subsidy removal on petroleum product and the attendant consequence of increasing pump prices.
But the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Folasade Ogunsola, has said the process of introduction of the new fees predated the subsidy removal, saying the university had commenced engagement with relevant stakeholders including students and parents since January.
Mrs Ogunsola, a professor of Medical Microbiology, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that the old fees regime is no longer sustainable, noting that the university has consistently recorded deficits of about N1 billion annually.
She said when students are on campus the university pays as high as about N160 million on a monthly basis to a power distribution company, “apart from the huge cost we incur on diesel, water, janitorial services, among others.”
The university had on Wednesday held a meeting with concerned parties on the campus including staff unions, where the matter was appraised.
Until the latest announcement, returning undergraduate students on the campus had been between N26,000 and about N76,000, depending on the courses of study and the level of the students.
For instance, at UNIMAID, medical students pay different fees based on their levels. The final-year students pay the highest fee of N256,000 while the lowest fee payable by the medical students is N112,000 for students of the Department of Physiotherapy.
In fact, at the University of Abuja, following the announcement of the fee increase on 1 May, some student leaders who were accused of mobilising students for protests were rusticated.
Students of UNIBEN also complained bitterly over what they described as an imposition of the new fee regime by the administration of the new vice-chancellor, Lillian Salami.
UNILAG’s new fees breakdown
According to the statement issued by UNILAG, the mandatory charges for new undergraduate students indicate that the university has not introduced a fee.
However, all fresh students who study courses without the use of laboratories and studios will pay a flat rate of N156,325, while their counterparts who would be required to make use of laboratories or studios will pay N206,325.
The new rates are inclusive of N10,000 for toxicology tests and annual utility charges of N20,000.
For returning students, who are students from 200 level to final year classes, the charges range between N120,750 and N170,250 depending on whether the courses being studied require the use of laboratories and studios or not.
However, for returning medical students, payable fees range between N210,250 and N240,250. The latter fee also includes the mandatory N20,000 utility fee and the N30,000 charged for convocation ceremonies.
The university used to charge N25,000 for convocation before now.
According to the statement, the items to be paid for by the students include registration, identity cards, examination, library services, information technology and entrepreneurship, medical services, sports, and endowment fund, among others.
Without Fees UNILAG Will Die -VC
The UNILAG Vice-Chancellor, Mrs Ogunsola, said the burden of running the universities in Nigeria was becoming unbearable and that unless the financial burden is shared, there could be no university to run again.
She said despite the government paying the university’s workers’ salaries, funds currently generated in a year could not run the university successfully for a month.
She said for almost two decades the university had not increased its fees, and that following the high inflation in Nigeria, the reasonable thing to do sustain the institution was to introduce “modest fees.”
“The truth is that the charges had been going up for quite some time but we kept managing in spite of the inflation. And honestly in the last three years or thereabouts, we have been having deficits of about N1 billion annually. And we have been cutting down our costs to give quality education. But we can’t live on philanthropism.
“Our expenditure has continued to outstrip our income. Our roles as lecturers shouldn’t be to be going around on how to make money but we are supposed to be thinking, doing research, and engaging in serious community services. We are losing lecturers per second because the university system does not work.”
Mrs Ogunsola said the university is pauperised, and that the engagement with the students, parents, and other stakeholders on the new fees had commenced in January.
Measures for indigent students
Mrs Ogunsola explained that the university has continued to support its indigent students and that the practice would continue.
According to her, some of the programmes put in place to help indigent students include, “adopt a student project,” “work-study programme,” and “talent hunt,” among others.
“This practice is not new and we are committed to enhancing it so that nobody is left behind. But the reality is that things are very difficult and we cannot afford to do nothing,” the vice-chancellor said.