Students of the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State, are at loggerheads with the management of the school following the latter’s decision to increase school fees for the 2015/2016 Academic Session.
PREMIUM TIMES’ checks showed that the increases in the fees were between 170 per cent to 240 per cent.
Details of the schedule of fees showed that medicine had the highest increase from N47,000 to N160,000, a 240 per cent increase.
Natural sciences, Education, Agriculture, and Physiology had their fees increased from N41,000 to N112, 500, a 174 per cent increase
Also Business courses like Public Administration, Business Administration, Economics and Banking and Finance attracted 175 per cent increase, as students will now pay N110,000 as against N40,000 earlier paid by the students.
Engineering courses, microbiology, computer science, architecture and building had their fees raised by 172 per cent from N45,000 to N122, 500.
Medical Laboratory Sciences, Nursing, Law, and Accounting was increased from N47,000 to N127,500 or 170 per cent.
The institute of education would now attract a fee of N110,000 instead of N40,000 paid last session, which is a 175 per cent increase.
Arts, Social Sciences and Fine and Applied Arts got a raise from N34,500 to N96,250, an increase of 179 per cent.
These are apart from the admission acceptance fees requiring medical students to pay N75,000 while other students are to pay N60,000.
After settling the fees, students would also be required to pay other charges such as Students’ Union dues, N1000; AAU Legal/File, N800; AAU Students welfare assurance, N500; Matriculation gown, N2000 and Concession fee, N10,000.
Baring any changes, a medical student would have to pay a whopping N249,300 per session under the new school fees regime.
It was gathered that students will continue to pay throughout their study in the institution, what they paid in their first year.
Findings however showed that because a new Students’ Union is yet to be inaugurated, there is currently no rallying point for the incoming students.
However a group of concerned students have put themselves together to tackle the management on the new fees regime.
Calling themselves students’ activists, they have undertaken to engage the management and other stakeholders, including parents to force down the new school fees.
Speaking on behalf of the students, Alex Peter, said the hike in the fees threatened the educational sector, as it makes education completely unaffordable.
“We are not oblivious of the hardship that Nigerian (AAU Ekpoma) students suffer in their campuses because of the corruption that has eaten up the soul of every sector in our society today,” he said.
“Students that are not paid bursaries, students that are not paid allowances, students whose future aren’t guaranteed even after spending years going through school shouldn’t be subjected to massive exploitation and unaffordable, ridiculous and obnoxious school charges.”
Mr. Peter noted that a students’ caretaker committee appointed by the school management after the earlier one was impeached, connived with the management to impose the new fees.
According to him, the newly elected government had not been inaugurated and in that situation could not begin to confront the issues officially.
He said he and his group of students were calling on the governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomole to intervene in the matter and reverse the hike.
Meanwhile, the management of the institution has defended the hike in the school fees, saying it was still affordable and competitive.
The Public Relations Officer and Deputy Registrar, Information and Protocol, Chris Adamaigbo, told PREMIUM TIMES that the fees did not affect returning students but only newly admitted students.
According to him, old students would continue to pay the old rates until they graduate from the school, noting that it is the policy of the school’s management to have it so.
Mr. Adamaigbo stated that the increase in the school fees should not be an issue at the moment, because those affected were yet to be students of the institution, wondering why anyone should be contending the policy.
“If you have an estate and a potential tenant comes in to rent the place, you will tell him what you want him to pay, it will be his choice to decide whether he wants to accept it or not,” Mr. Adamaigbo said.
“So they have a choice whether to accept it or not. As we speak no dime has been added to the fees of returning students.”
He said that a recent accreditation visit from the National Universities Commission, saw Ambrose Ali University commended for its modest fees when compared to other universities of its category in the country.
Mr. Adamaigbo, however, stated that the matter was being handled with relevant stakeholders to ensure that the controversies were resolved amicably.