Last week’s intervention of the Delta State Government in the increase in Students’ Acceptance Fee introduced by the management of the Delta State University (DELSU), Abraka, came in the nick of time and eventually put the development in complete abeyance. The prompt response brought relief to stakeholders who were miffed at the increase from N21, 000 to N81, 000 for students of Delta State origin and N100, 000 for students that are non-Deltans.
The directive was conveyed by the Commissioner for Higher Education in the state, Engr. Jude Sinebe, who, at a press briefing last Monday, described the hike in this particular fee as ‘’inappropriate at this particular time”, an obvious reference to the economic hardship being faced by parents and guardians who have their children and wards in the university. He, however, conceded that that the university law empowered the authorities to review fees charged in the institution from time to time.
Sinebe said, inter-alia: “ We have just read in the media about the increment of Students’ Acceptance Fee by the management of the Delta State University, Abraka, from N31,000 and N41,000, respectively, to N81,000 and N100,000 respectively. Well, it is true that we are not aware of the fact that, given the law establishing the various institutions, it is their right to change fees”.
It is cheery that the state government promptly intervened in the increase which came with shock and disbelief. This timely and commendable action portrays the Okowa administration as responsive to the genuine agitations of the people. Without doubt, since he was inaugurated into office in May 2015, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has neither foot-dragged nor shown manifest disinterest in any matter that impinges on public interest.
Initially, a lot of persons dismissed it as a mere rumour when the news started floating. But by the time it flooded the traditional and social media space, and became also accessible on the DELSU portal where it was purportedly uploaded, anger and criticisms followed in many towns and social circles.
That the new acceptance became the dominant topic of discourse shortly before its reversal, showed the premium Deltans place on education and the extent they will go in protecting their right to affordable education. As it were, that single increase pointed to a possible further hike in the overall tuition fees, which would have depicted perceived aloofness of DELSU’s management to the plight of parents and students.
No one is against the authorities for initiating such increase. It is the sheer figure of the hike that stoked people’s indignation. Granted that the basic reason for the increase was to boost its internal revenue base and meet its rising recurrent bills, DELSU management knows too well that most parents of its students constitute a percentage of those Nigerians that are stuck in pitiable poverty, occasioned by the nation’s prostate economy. It is unarguable that financial difficulty as well as the relative access to admission inform the preference of DELSU by candidates from average homes and backgrounds.
It is our considered view that the gradual but steady approach as reflected by the marginal increase from N21,000 to N31,000 for Deltans and N31, 000 to N41, 000 for non-Deltans is preferable to the botched increase of N81,000 and N100,000 respectively. Of course, the latter would have potentially enriched the institution with huge funds, but, in the long run, it could have hindered the pursuit of higher education by many Deltans.
Thus, while it is incumbent on the institution to be cautious in future with regard to fee increases, we plead with the state government to give greater attention through marginal increase of statutory subvention to DELSU to bolster its existence. DELSU needs adequate support of its proprietor to grow to the admiration of Deltans, rather than burdening parents with orchestrated annual adjustment of fees to the chagrin of many stakeholders.
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