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Saturday, June 1, 2019

TAKING A LOOK BACK: TUITION FEE SAGA AT AAUA/OSUSTECH


Controversies keeps trailing the increment of tuition fee in two Ondo State owned institutions, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko and Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. Students of these two schools took to the street to protest the heavy burden of the fee. ADESOLA IKULAJOLU  reports as he take us back in Analysis :


The students of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, AAUA, has protested the policy of the school management that disallowed students without payment of tuition fee from writing test while Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa,OSUSTECH, is demanding a reduction in their tuition fee.

Recall that tuition fee of AAUA was reviewed upward by the State government under Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in 2018. The review was welcomed with a nationwide protest by the students shutting down the state capital, Akure in April 2018.

The tuition fee was increased to 100,000 for returning students in the faculty of Sceince, Law, Social and Management Sciences and 150,000 for new students while faculty of Education and Arts was increased to 80,000 and 100,000 for new students. Final year students were to pay 70,000 across board.

Before the increment, tuition fee in AAUA is within the range of 28,000 to 32,000 depending on the faculty.

The agreement changed in 2018/2019 session when students were asked to retain what they pay in previous year which caused another uproar among the students again.

"NO PAYMENT NO TEST" PROTEST IN AAUA
In AAUA,  we gathered that the Computer Based Test (CBT) for General Studies (GST)  was to hold from April 23rd to 24th, 2019 involving 100Level and 200Level respectively but Students without payment of tuition fee were not allowed to write the test.

The case began penultimate Tuesday when some of the affected new students,100L gathered at the CBT center to show their grievances but were still not permitted to write the test.

One of the affected students who was yet to make her tuition fee payment spoke under anonymity saying that the policy was totally unacceptable at the moment it was enforced.

"I have not paid likewise other students and the people in power are not even showing concern. Many of us Came to AAUA because of the low school fee payment but now,no difference between public institution and private institutions."

"The institution don't care  whether we students fail or pass, they only need our money. What if we later paid and had missed the test,what will be recorded in my continuous assessment."

She added that students should be allowed to write the test and examinations because they (the students) will pay.

Before the protest on Wednesday 24 April, the returning students, 200L were not allowed to write their own test too unless they provide proof of their tuition fee payment.

Some of the agitated students approached the center to protest the action where they met the Students Union President,Comrade Adesomoju Samuel (SAMPRAISE).

Some of the witness at the center said some of the students attacked the SUG President for not taking proactive measure to address the issue knowing that majority are yet to pay. It was the genesis of the protest that took place on April 24.

The students took to the street blocking major roads and restricting vehicle movements in the community.

Idowu Ridwan who spoke on the issue described the  attitude of the state government to education as inhuman stating that the protest was long awaited.

" The protest is a ticking time  bomb  that has been waiting patiently to strike since the administration of the former SUG president and I think the incumbent SUG president is careless to have let it explode during his administration."

He added that "the protest in AAUA is a sign of  liberation because education in Ondo state has been in shackles since the commencement of this administration".

The Senate president of the Students Union, Senator Adebowale Temitope (Don Richy)  said steps had been taking to address the policy and negotiation was ongoing with the management.

He maintained that the Union stood against the policy before it led to the protest by the students.

"Preceding the eruption of the protest, I and other progressive minds made a lot of bold step to ensure the decision to restrict students from sitting for examination once they don't pay, doesn't stand. We were strongly against the act put up by the state government as our students couldn't pay the colossal amount of money imposed."
Speaking forward, Senator Adebowale said that the union have been making a lot of progressive effort to reach  the Vice Chancellor and several state stakeholders to help in effecting a lasting solution to the fee increment.

While addressing the students during the protest,  the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Prof. Francis Gbore said that the management is looking into the matter. It was then he announced that the management had approved a Three weeks Mid-semester break to allow peace and further negotiations.

On his part,  Dean of Students Affairs , Dr.  Owolewa Olusegun in an interview in his office while the protest was ongoing said that the management did not implement any policy to disallow students who are yet to pay from writing test.

The Dean added that"The management did not implement any policy of No tuition no examination. It was a strategy not to make the 100L lose their admission and Immediately we saw the situation, we ordered that everyone should be allowed to write the test, " Dean said.

While replying to the cause of the protest,  the Dean highlighted that the Student Union leaders were out of place where adequate information did not flow.

"The Management did not give Instructions for No Test No Examination. The Management still gave chances to pay till April 30.Why will the Management changed its decision so quickly. It was information gap" Dr.  Owolewa added.

Meanwhile,during the protest the school in a circular signed by the Registrar,  Dr. Micheal Ayeerun confirmed the  Three Weeks Mid-Semester break with immediate effect highlighting that students should resume back May 20.

...ARRESTED STUDENTS
CAMPUSLIFE monitored when men of the Nigerian Army intervened to free the traffic congestion caused by the protest.

The protest extended to the next day where several students were arrested after men of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Police  patrolled the community trying to scare protesters away.

Prior to the arrest, Dean of students had sent a strong warning that "students of the institution should not engage in act that would have them confront security personnel".

"Please do not converge on the road or campus....it is very dangerous." He beseeched students to go home and prepare for their exams.


Some students were arrested and taken to the Police station and were later released on the order of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN.

According to a statement by the Ondo State Chief Press Secretary, Segun Ajiboye , Governor Akeredolu gave directives to release the protesting students after receiving a briefing of the incident from the State Police Commissioner.

The statement explained that "Governor Akeredolu is already looking into the matter, urging the students to go home and maintain peace, stressing the need for peace in the campus and the state at large."

PROTEST IN OSUSTECH
Students of Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa also took to the street on Monday 29 April, 2019,to protest the hike in their tuition fee.

The students also shut down academics activities in the institution as they protested what they described as outrageous school fees introduced by the school’s management.

It was also gathered that the students  blocked the Okitipupa-Igbokoda highway which  prevented movement of motorists within the axis.

It was learnt that the students of OSUSTECH were calling for downward review of their tuition fee. The students were agitating against the management decision to retain the tuition fee payable by the 200L which is reported to be between 150,000 and 200,000.

One of the students said "the reason for the protest is because the school wants to retain the fee we paid while coming in as fresh students. We paid between 150,000 and 200,000 as fresh students,  the fee should reduce now that we are in 200L."

While reacting, the Director of Campus Affairs,National Association of Nigerian Students, Comrade Oyedokun Isreal(IBD) said the protests is a warning to the state government.

"The peaceful demonstration by students on the outrageous tuition fees is a welcome development , the turnout showed that vast majority of students can't afford such fee and they don't also wish to dropout of school."

He added that "the demonstrations also served as a warning to the State government and those involved in decisions making of the institutions that Education should be made affordable for everyone. Education is a right not a choice"
Another graduate of Political Science,  Comrade Ajagunna Ganiyu condemned the attitude of the state government in hiking tuition fee in the state.

"It's an addition of salt to injury. You don't present such astronomical and satanic  increment in fees and set up such policies. It is not done anywhere in the world even in mercury and Saturn."

The State Governor which is the visitor of the Institution and the governing council must reel out a school fee structure which all stratas can welcome with a smile and not make the children of the society's downtrodden become a beggar for an education they enjoyed free in their time."

Meanwhile, in a statement signed by the school Registrar Felix Akinusi,  OSUSTECH students are to proceed on a Two weeks Mid-semester break and resume back May 13.

OSUSTECH protest came few days after AAUA agigated for similar issue as students of the two universities wants reduction in the

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