There was unrest at the University of Calabar, in Cross River State, on Monday, following the recently announced increase by over 100 per cent in the University’s tuition fees for undergraduates.
Aggrieved by this announcement, students of the institution took to the streets with placards, on a protest.
The students, in their hundreds, also blocked the school gate with leaves, chanting solidarity songs, which completely disrupted school activities.
During the peaceful demonstration to express their grievances, they urged the school management to suspend their action and return to the old fees.
They accused the Vice Chancellor, Prof Florence Banku Obi, of habitually increasing fees without consultation, wondering why the 100 per cent increment which they described as outrageous would be made in such harsh economy.
The students also described as untrue, the claim by the management that the upward review of the fees was taken at an emergency meeting of the university’s Senate on Friday.
In a release earlier made available to newsmen, by the school Public Relations Officer, Effiong Eyo, the management disclosed that the implementation of the upward review will take effect in the 2022–2023 and 2023–2024 academic sessions.
According to them, the increment was necessitated by the current economic realities and the need to maintain the academic standard the university is known for.
The tuition fees raise means that freshers, returning students, and final-year students for the non-science courses are expected to pay N111,000, N91,500, and N114,000, respectively.
In addition, they are also to pay N36,500, N21,500, and N21,500, respectively, as third-party dues. Similarly, fees for science courses were increased to N155,000, N125,000, and N148,000, respectively, for freshers, returning students, and final-year students.
Likewise, they are also to pay N38,500, N21,500, and N21,500, respectively, as third-party dues. Prior to the increment, tuition fees for an average student, depending on the department, were N64,050 for freshers, N52,050 for final-year students, and N49,500 for returning students.
In an interview with TNN, the protesting students accused the leadership of the Student Union Government of being a puppet in the hands of the school authority.
They frowned at the SUG leadership for allegedly not speaking out for the good of the students and the institution.
One of the protesters who spoke on the grounds of anonymity said, “we are protesting because of the fees increment, it was done without our input as students of the institution.
“We heard that there was an emergency senate meeting on Friday and that it was not also mentioned in that meeting, there was no such idea, no clue of such increment, it was after the meeting, in the evening that we saw the news all over the internet, claiming that there was slight adjustment.
“They went to school free in their own time, free, how can you say that education is not for the poor. This is not a private university, it’s a public university.
“This is not the first time, how can someone just sit down and decide to increase fees by 100 per cent, without conscience, no sympathy, most of us are struggling on our own, we expected better from her that as a woman, she should be a mother to all of us.”
On whether the VC came out to address them during the protest, he said, “no, we heard she travelled after that announcement. Our request is that they should return to the old fees and portal should be shut down, for Christ sake this is a public university not private, don’t they want us to go to school and become useful to the society? This is highly unfair.”
On their part, the management of the institution, has suspended the payment of school charges till further notice.
This directive from the VC was stated in a release by the school Public Relations Officer, Effiong Eyo, as made available to TNN.
The release read, “the Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar has directed that the payment of school charges by undergraduates of the institution be put on hold until further notice.
“A release issued by the Registrar of the University of Calabar, Mr. Gabriel Egbe disclosed that the directive is coming on the heels of a protest embarked upon by students of the institution over the recent adjustment in undergraduate school charges.
“In the release, the registrar said that the Management of the institution is a listening administration and has accordingly assured the students as critical stakeholders that appropriate arrangements have been put in place through constructive engagements with the students to resolve the matter.
“Management however commended the students for the mature, reasonable and civilized manner exhibited towards resolving the matter.”