Some graduating students of the University of Calabar who were upbeat about participating in the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) now have their hopes as the university has decided to withhold the certificates that would allow them take part in the one year service.
They had already been mobilized for the service only for their hopes to be dashed by the university's authorities. This sad development for the affected students arose from the fact that out of the 433 graduands due for the service, only 240 have paid their school fee up to date.
Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Zana Akpagu gave the figure in a statement addressed to all the University's Heads of Departments, saying payment of fees was now a precondition for issuance of certificates to graduating students of the institution before they could be mobilized for the youth service. With the VC's pronouncement, the affected 193 students will have to wait until they pay their fees before they are mobilized for the national service.
Akpagu said that graduands who had cleared their fees and other charges should pick up their certificates as he vowed to end what he called school fee evasion by students.
He questioned why HODs administer examinations, mark scripts, present fee evaders' results to the university's Senate for approval which they sign and collect after approval without paying their fees and other charges.
"Why do you administer exams to, mark scripts, present fee evaders/frauds and even present their results to Senate for approval? Based on Senate approved results, certificates are signed and collected by them. This means we graduate students who have not paid school charges due to acts of commission or omission by you!''
The vice chancellor, who was livid, also blamed other non-academic staff for what is going on. “This incidence of financial leakage is aided and abetted by faculty finance officers who either fail to check or outright collude with bank officials to issue fake payment receipts. This is how the racketeering operates.
“It must stop under my watch. Last week, I had to stop Medical Lab Science induction ceremony midway to send out fee defaulters who were already wearing academic gowns, in the presence of their parents. Out of 80 whose certificates I had already been deceived into signing, only 38 had paid their fees.
“Today, out of 433 certificates of prospective NYSC candidates I have signed, only 240 have paid up after verification. Those cleared should pick up their certificates this morning. No amount of blackmail will deter me. There is enormous will and determination on my part to stop this."
Those hard-hit by the decision of the Vice-Chancellor are indigent students whose parents or guardians cannot afford the fees and other charges. And there are hundreds of them in this category. Their dilemma is compounded by the harsh economic situation in the country and the non-payment of salaries regularly to parents that are working.
Although the second generation university is the federal university where students pay the 5th lowest fee, affording the N35,000 per session along with other charges is a difficult task for some parents and guardians. And by the time it accumulates for two or three years, it is almost an impossible task to accomplish. For indigent students, scholarship and bursary awards are the saving grace.