NUC May Suspend Implementation Of Universities’ Fee Hike

As the pressures mount around the commission, the National Universities Commission (NUC) is likely to suspend the implementation of an increase in the tuition fees of universities.

This online medium reports that the House of Representatives has urged the NUC to suspend the implementation.

This was contained in a motion by Aliyu Sani Madaki, who noted that the universities that hiked their fees included Bayero University, Kano; the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; the University of Uyo; University of Maiduguri; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike; and Federal University, Dutse, among others.

Lawmakers in the green chamber were concerned that the hike in fees by the universities was happening against the worsening poverty level in the country, inflation, high rate of unemployment, and the recent fuel price hike.

They feared that the increase could cause disruptions for a number of students who could not afford the fees and that while many of them would be forced to defer their studies, others could drop out entirely.

The lawmakers also noted that the hike might aggravate the already volatile situation in the country as students were already making threats which could lead to an uprising against the Federal Government, with grievous consequences for the country as a whole.

The House also asked the Federal Government to reverse the recent hike of school fees in Unity secondary schools.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has rejected the National Universities Commission’s document on Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS), dissolution of federal universities governing councils and increment in students’ fees and charges in tertiary institutions.

The association also urged the government of President Bola Tinubu to review the conditions for the recently approved student loans.

The trade union, among other reasons, said the document is capable of destroying the values of any academic programme in the areas of laboratory, workshop, studio or research farm practices.

NAAT’s position was contained in a communiqué issued at its 52nd National Executive Council meeting held in Kano State on July 5 and 6, NAAT.

The communiqué, signed by NAAT’s national president, Comrade Ibeji Nwokoma, read: “We observed obvious errors of omission and commission as contained in the current situation on CCMAS document under review. For example on page 70 under engineering and technology which is similar for all other disciplines, the role/place of academic technologists in the university system in Nigeria was not given any consideration in the document as one of the critical stakeholders in the university system.

“The CCMAS document under review was prepared and circulated without any input from members of NAAT who are critical stakeholders in the laboratories/workshops/studios as one of the tripods upon which any university is built.

“This is an aberration, capable of destroying the values of any academic programme in the area of laboratory, workshop, studio or research farm practices. The document is also silent on the minimum number of academic technologists to man laboratory, workshop, studio or research farm for effective and efficient running of an academic programme.

“It was also noted that, contrary to the existing provision of minimum office space for academic technologists in the NUC document, no provision was made under the draft CCMAS.

“Based on the forgoing, it is clear that necessary consultations and inputs from stakeholders in the university education system of which NAAT is one have not been done.

“On the basis of these, we as a body of academic technologist strongly reject the said CCMAS document and call for its immediate withdrawal from circulation.”

On the issue of dissolution of federal universities’ governing councils, NAAT said, “We frown on the decision of the Federal Government to dissolve the governing councils of all Federal Government-owned institutions of higher learning in the country.

The union describe this move us a setback for the growth and development of Nigeria’s tertiary education as the dissolution will cripple the activities of the country’s tertiary institutions, especially in the areas of promotion, motivation, welfare, contracts and project documentation as well as laboratory facilities for practical and research.

“Therefore, we urge the government to reinstate them immediately so as not to create vacuum in the management of Nigerian tertiary institutions.”

On the Student Loans for Tertiary Institutions, the union said, “While the idea behind the student loan to pursue their education is not a bad one, we are concerned that the condition attached to assessing the loan are too stringent such that it may be impossible for a student to access.

“Therefore, we call for an urgent review of the conditions in order to make it accessible to the concerned students. NAAT is strongly of the opinion that the government should also consider giving grant especially for indigent ones as a viable alternative to students’ loan.”

The union also made in its position known on the issue of tuition fee and other charges increase in the higher institutions in the country, saying, “NAAT is worried and concerned too with the recent development regarding the increase in fees and charges in our federal institutions, particularly universities.

“This development may compel many of our students to drop out of school, occasioned by the current economic hardship facing parents and inadequate resources to meet up with economic demands.

“We are aware that over 200 percent increase in fees and charges are now being imposed by universities authorities. NAAT therefore appeal to the government to consider the plight of the poor and rescind the decision by returning to status quo until the loan issue is properly addressed.”

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