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SERAP threatens legal action against UI, AAU over fees hike

A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has urged the authorities of the University of Ibadan and Adekunle Ajasin University to reverse the recent hike in their fees or be ready to face legal action.

The group, in a statement on Thursday by its Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, contended that the hike in fees would take education out of the reach of children of ordinary Nigerians.

It said the hike in fees was tantamount to punishing the students for the failure of the government to fund the public universities.

UI had recently increased accommodation and professional trainings fees for students while AAU increased its tuition fees.

UI reportedly hiked its accommodation fee from N14,000 to N40,000 per student while the professional training fees were raised to between N75,000 to N100,000 per student.

On its own part, AAU increased its tuition fees from about N35,000 to between N120,000 and N200,000 per session.

But SERAP described the increment in fees as a stigmatisation of students, saying it would foreclose access of children of the ordinary citizens to education.

It said, “The universities ought to have carefully considered the effects of high fees on accessibility and the vision of education that they seek to achieve.

“The universities are advised to find solutions to their funding difficulties elsewhere. But if they fail to reverse these fees within seven days of the publication of this statement, SERAP would take appropriate legal action to compel them to do so.

“The dramatic increases would have the effect of discriminating against disadvantaged students who may be unable to pay the new fees, and who are not granted any exemption, thereby creating a classification based on the economic and social status of their parents. The increases would also undermine the students’ rights to education and equal protection guarantees.

“The inability of the students or their parents to pay these fees would result in an absolute deprivation of a meaningful opportunity for the students to enjoy educational benefit. Increasing fees because the authorities are not adequately funding the two institutions is victimising the students over an issue they have neither control nor responsibility.

“Students that are unable to pay these fees may become disillusioned, gradually disassociate from the universities, and eventually drop out entirely. When a student is excluded from gaining the full benefits available in public school because of inability to pay fees, the effect is exclusion which naturally imposes a lifetime hardship on a discrete class of students not accountable for their disabling status.”

The group called on the National Assembly to come up with legislation that would “end arbitrary imposition of fees in our public schools; grant exemptions to students from disadvantaged background; ensure that our universities are adequately funded on an equitable basis to ensure the proper exercise of the rights to equal protection of law and education and redress inequalities in education provision.”‎

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