Funding of institutions of higher learning in the country has always been a big challenge for federal and state governments. This has often resulted in protracted disputes between the government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The disputes sometimes lead to prolonged strikes by lecturers resulting in the frequent disruption of academic activities.
Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH), one of the foremost institutions of higher learning in Cross River state, also grapples with this funding gap. The state government owned university which transformed from polytechnic is buffeted by myriads of challenges largely in the area of lack of adequate infrastructure in the institution's four campuses located in Calabar, Obubra, Ogoja and Okuku.
Precisely, in Calabar main campus, insecurity is one of the major issues students want the institution's authorities to tackle as a matter of urgency. A student in the Mass Communication Department of the institution, Ubi Usor, brought the issue to the fore when he said “the school's most urgent challenge is insecurity.”
He wants security personnel to do their job more effectively to safeguard the lives of students, lecturers and other members of the university community.
“The school environment is not very safe especially at night. This situation affects mostly students that stay in the hostels,” he told TNN.
The institution's Chief Security Officer, ASP Iwara Ibiang Enang, who spoke on the issue said the school has too many exit points which are supposed to be closed but the government had not yet provided the funds needed to close those numerous exits.
He was working seriously to effect the necessary changes.
Enang also said it was to prevent crimes and other forms of criminality that tricycles were banned by the school's authorities in 2016.
He said efforts were being made to bring back shuttle buses so that students won't have to trek a long distance from the gate to their various departments.
“The school's authorities are seriously working on providing campus shuttle in the four campuses of the university,” Enang told TNN.
Another problem faced by students is the absence of electricity supply in various departments and the hostels in particular, especially in the Mass Communication Department where students need electricity to carry out practical.
Lack of adequate electricity supply has persisted on campus for over two years coupled with bitter complaints by students in hostels about lack of potable water.
Students resort to going outside the campus at Ekpo Abasi to fetch water. One of the students, Helen Sunday, said students sometimes go to school late or even miss lectures while spending time in search of water.
The students attributed scarcity of water to poor electricity supply in the university campus and hoped that water supply could improve if electricity supply also improved.
Samuel Kingsley, a student in CRUTECH told TNN that the school's authorities admit too many students which makes lecture halls to be over-crowded to the extent that some students even stand to receive lectures in classrooms with poor ventilation.
However, in September students embarked on a peaceful protest over the absence of social amenities in the various departments of the school, especially lack of electricity.
The Vice Chancellor of the school, Professor Anthony Owan Enoh, has promised to address all the challenges in CRUTECH and students are awaiting his action.
Students also appealed to the state government and other well-meaning individuals and private organisations to assist the school authorities to provide the basic amenities needed by students to make their stay and learning conducive and more effective.