By Uche Nworah, Ph.D
Higher education in Nigeria is an expensive endeavour. Whether in federal or state institutions, it is the same story. However, it does appear that sponsoring a student through a state university costs more. One gets the impression that there is little regulation from the respective state governments that set up these institutions, hence the university administrators, perennially faced with acute fund shortages with which to run the institutions, are left to their own devices as they introduce several desperate measures to raise funds.
Students who are lucky naturally pass on the fees burden to their parents and guardians to pay, while the not-so-lucky ones, females in particular, resort to all sorts of unpleasant measures to raise the fees.
One of my wards who recently completed her degree exams, and successfully defended her final year thesis in a state government – owned university sent me a list of items to pay for, to enable her do her ‘clearance’.
I want to believe that the list is real as I have no reason to doubt her. Having gone through the list of items which totals One Hundred and Seventy One Thousand Naira Only (N171,000), I am just wondering at the sense of it all. Is this not another way the universities fleece students and their parents/guardians?
Is it not about time that we abolish this ‘clearance’ nonsense in our higher institutions? Many students have been known to spend additional years post-graduation and are not able to proceed to the compulsory national youth service scheme (NYSC) because they have not ‘completed their clearance’ from their schools.
Usually at this stage, many students are told that their results can not be computed because some results are missing, therefore the students are forced to spend an extra semester or year to retake the examination, and the parents or guardians still have to pay for school fees, accommodation and living expenses for the additional year caused by the sloppiness and carelessness of some of the university lecturers and staff.
Our higher institutions need to clean up their Examinations and Records departments, possibly digitise such records to finally put a stop to the unpleasant experience students face.
In the case of my ward and the clearance she sent to me, just what is the sense in paying such exorbitant fees for some of the items which appears unnecessary to me. Take for instance medicals which is costing N31,000. What is that for? Transcript is costing N20,000. Where is the university sending the transcript to? Are transcripts not issued on demand? Has my ward requested for her transcript? Meanwhile, if she requires this in the future and has to apply, she will have to pay again.
There are other fees in the list that I consider exorbitant and exploitative such as Special Education Fund N21,000, Degree Certificate N16,000, Convocation gown N5,000, then there is also matriculation gown N4,000, Anti- cult N5,000, Result verification N6,000, Statement of result N3,000, Departmental association 10,000, Certificate scroll N2,000, Conversation fee N5,000 (whatever that means) and so on.
I have no choice but to go ahead and send the money to her to conclude the clearance, because if I don’t, she won’t be able to join her mates for the youth service.
However, state governments and the federal government should holistically address the issue of university funding in Nigeria to save students, parents and guardians from financial exploitation from university authorities.