The Lagos State Government on Sunday explained why it has to increase school fees at the Lagos State University, stressing that it was not part of government’s efforts to increase school fees but that it had no option but to approve increment based on recommendation of the visitation panel.
In a statement, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba said the students started the process of the increment when they stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly with a demand to set up visitation panel to look into issues affecting the institution.
He said the students described the school then as nothing but a glorified secondary school which they disliked. He said that the state government did not only approve increment in tuition fee but also approved packages such as bursary and scholarship to cushion the effect of the increment on the student.
“Without doubt, infrastructure development at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Lagos, is visibly progressing. Very soon, we are sure to realize the LASU of our collective dream and aspiration. Journey to the new LASU project began sometime in 2009, when the school was engulfed in a serious crisis. This disrupted the institution’s academic calendar for over eight weeks.
In a bid to resolve the crisis, the various unions in LASU, including the ‘Student Union Government’, stormed the Lagos State House of Assembly with a demand that the state government set up a Visitation Panel to look into the various issues that were fuelling crisis. Of note then was the students’ description of their school as a “glorified secondary school” which they no longer liked.
“On the 11th of November, 2009, the State Government inaugurated a six-man Visitation Panel led by Justice Olaseinde Silva to review various issues affecting the school. These encompassed the students’ affairs policies and practices from the point of entry to graduation, including admission, students’ welfare, regularity of attendance in class, conduct of examinations, maintenance of discipline, marking of scripts, release of results, record keeping, issuance of certificates and transcripts. Other issues for review by the panel included, mobilization of graduates for national youth service, staff appointment and promotion, staff welfare and discipline in the University.
The panel was also to examine the state of facilities and manpower in the school and proffer appropriate solutions and recommendations to government.
“From the panel’s terms of reference, it is obvious that tuition fee increment was not contemplated by the State Government.
However, when the Panel submitted its report, it found an increase of tuition fees inevitable if the University was ever to attain the desired level of excellence. It therefore recommended, among other things, an increase in tuition fees, replacement of the then Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdul Lateef Hussein, intervention of government in the upgrade of infrastructure in the school and intensification of efforts towards the accreditation of courses being offered by the institution.
On the Visitation Panel’s recommendation in respect of tuition fee increment, the State Executive Council, after weeks of painstaking deliberations, eventually approved, but with some modifications in order to lessen the burden on the students and, indeed, their parents. It was decided that the new fees should affect only prospective students. Those already registered in the University at the time were not affected and would continue to pay the old fees until they graduated. Furthermore, the affected new students were allowed to pay the increased fees on an installment basis.
“Still in an effort to ease the anticipated burden, an upward review of bursary awards to indigent students was arrived at while budget for scholarship and research was equally increased. It is in line with this policy that Government allocated a subvention of N32.152 billions to the education parastatals and tertiary institutions across the State in the 2014 fiscal year”, he said.