Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the authorities of two Nigerian universities to reverse the recently increased school fees or face legal action.

SERAP, in a statement signed by Mr Timothy Adewale, its Deputy Director and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos, described the hiked fees as “illegal”.

The institutions are the University of Ibadan (UI) and Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA) in Ondo State.

The rights organisation said the fee increase would stigmatise students who are unable to afford the new fees.

Giving the universities an ultimatum, SERAP 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.’’

UI increased fees for students’ professional training and accommodation, while AAUA increased tuition fees.

The professional fees at UI now range from N75,000 to N100,000 per student, while accommodation fee in the hostel was raised from N14,000 to N40,000 per student.

AAUA increased tuition fee from N30,000 to between N120,000 and N200,000 per session.

According to SERAP, the dramatic increases will have the discrimination effect on disadvantaged students, who may be unable to afford the new fees.

“They are not granted an exemption, thereby creating a classification based on the economic and social status of their parents.

“The increases will also undermine the students’ rights to education and equal protection guarantees.’’

It stated that 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 the educational benefit.

“Increasing fees because the governments are not adequately funding the two institutions amount to victimising the students over an issue they have neither control nor responsibility.

“Students that are unable to pay these fees may become disillusioned, gradually dissociate from the universities and eventually drop out.

“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.’’

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