Students of the Kwara State University (KWASU) in Malete, Kwara State, on Monday, protested the 300 per cent hike of their hostel exemption fee from N5,000 to N20,000.
The fee is mandatory for fresh and final year students who opt not to reside in the school’s N65,000 per year hostel facility.
The controversial levy is also a prerequisite for the ongoing registration of courses for the semester.
The students occupied the entrance point of the school, which was under lock, in large numbers on Monday.
“There were no classes today. Even the staff didn’t show up. Most students were outside in the morning protesting,” a 300-level student of Microbiology department who participated in the action, told this newspaper.
Many students, who spoke with our reporter, condemned the move by the school management.
“I think the major issue for the school right now is finance. The school feels they’re not getting enough and that’s why any little opportunity they always want to increase school fees or other fees.
“But all this increment uncalled for and it is too much. It is telling on us seriously, especially after the COVID-19. Things are not really the same. It is not easy for some of our parents when its not like we’re in a private institution,” a student said.
Another student said the protest had a backdrop of many issues, including the poor state of the hostels.
“We’re on protest today because so many things have gone wrong in the system since the new VC stepped in. Also, these days, no light and water. It is really bad this semester.”
The Students’ Union President, Azeez Lawal, said students’ leaders had met with the school management and relevant authorities in the state to register the students’ grievances.
In a statement of Sunday, Mr Lawal said although the university management refused to shift grounds, the state government has promised to reverse the levy.
“We met with the management, they stood their grounds of not reducing this increment when some of our members shed tears in front of them, what a pity. Some individuals gave up on the process, I couldn’t. I gave the notice that no students should pay until it has been reversed but then, the situation was tough, different students have different reasons why they needed their course registration urgently.
“Officials of the ministry of Tertiary Education came to our campus on Friday based on my intervention and the fee was removed from the portal for outright reversal back to the former fee. But up till date, the implementation has not been accomplished.
“I was shocked but not surprised when I saw a memo released by the management, signed by the registrar that I incited students against the management. Well, I can but I wouldn’t because students will definitely fight for their rights without being implanted to do so.
”We met with the Governor of Kwara State representatives, we have good news already!. Our demands have been heard and approved. The exemption fee will be completely reversed and will be granted to students at application,” the statement read.
In an internal memo released by the Acting Registrar, Muhammed Shaib, on Sunday, the official stated that a large percentage of the students refused to pay for the hostels.
” This is to inform the entire University community that it has been the University’s policy over the years that, new students and final year students should stay in the University’s hostels. However, attention of the Management was drawn to the fact that after about eight weeks after resumption for this Academic Session a large percentage of the cuurrent final year students refused to pay for the University’s hostels in flagrant disobedience to the University’s regulation.”
Mr Shuaib, who was silent on the outrageous increase, threatened that the school authorities will deal with protesting students.
“It must be stressed that, any student found distrupting the peace and tranquility on campus will be arraigned before the Students Disciplinary Committee and appropriate sanctions will be imposed on such student according to the University’s law.We hereby remind the affected students of their Matriculation oath that they will be obedient to the rules and regulations of the University and to not distrupt peace and tranquility on campus.”
School makes U-turn
The spokesperson of the school, Rasaq Sanni, said the university management would cancel the hostel exemption fee which, according to him, has been abused by the students.
“It’s clear that the school has a policy. It is practised in all universities that new students and finalists must stay on campus.”
According to him, the idea of the increase is no longer valid with the restraints from the students.
He told PREMIUM TIMES that the school will enforce the policy that mandates final year students and fresh students to live in the school hostel.
“We are asking them to go and pay for the hostels now. Only students who are married or those with health conditions that can stay in the hostels will be exempted,” Mr Sanni stated.