The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife management recently announced a new, but outrageous fee regime for her pre-degree programme. Under this new fee arrangement, the male candidates admitted for the pre-degree programme are expected to pay N177, 500 while the female candidates pay N212, 500 before starting online registration as students. The female students are paying more as a result of hostel accommodation charge.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) totally condemns this fee regime and demands its immediate reversal. We call on the OAU Students’ Union, staff unions, civil society groups and Nigerian workers and parents to jointly reject this mass-scale extortion.
This new fee was an inconsiderate leap from the exorbitant N152, 500, which students in this programme paid last session. There is no reason for this hike other than the quest by the university to make huge profit at the risk of impoverishing parents and pricing education out of the reach of the toiling masses.
The OAU Pre-degree programme runs for about a year as an equivalent of UTME for candidates seeking admission into undergraduate courses in the University. In recent period, tens of thousands of students always apply for the programme because of limited chances of getting admission through UTME. Parents are often enticed by the notion that preferences are given to candidates who have successfully completed the programmes over their UTME counterparts in the undergraduate admission system of the school. In fact, this is not true, because thousands usually get admitted into the Pre-degree programme, whereas the university has an admission capacity for only a tiny fraction of this huge population. But the OAU management simply preys on the thirst of candidates and parents for tertiary education to squeeze their pockets dry.
Aside the fact that running this programme does not guarantee admission for students, the conditions which students undergo for the period of the programme are inhumane and harsh. Erratic water and power supply is the order of the day at the Moro campus situated in Ipetu Modu, Osun State. Yearly, students in this programme always complain about high rate of insecurity, including burglary and rape.
The programme has continued to serve as a business venture for the OAU management. For us in the ERC, the idea of a pre-degree programme is an ill-result of the continuous underfunding of education by the government which has resulted in fewer admission spaces. If education has been appropriately funded, there would be no absurdity of limited admission spaces and university managements like OAU’s would not have been able to turn the thirst for literacy into a money-making machine.
With the recent increment in pre-degree fee, the Prof Tale Omole-led OAU management has only maintained its consistent record of pro-rich, anti-poor policies in the university. In reality, the only image that comes to mind after mentioning OAU is the slogan “POOR STUDENTS ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.” This new hike is coming at the heel of a similar increment in the undergraduate charges of the university, which was protested and still being resented by undergraduate and post-graduate students of the university. While the university had promised that the fee would improve the conditions of learning for the undergraduate students, the reality of conditions of learning on OAU campus today is abysmal and pathetic. Only last month, students on the Ile-Ife campus of the university protested an over 7-day power outage and erratic water supply. It follows to say that the new regime of charges on the Moro campus of the university, if not rejected swiftly by parents and Nigerians, would not mean any substantial improvement in the conditions of learning and living on that campus.
The Education Rights Campaign (ERC) demands a halt to the business-oriented education policy of the Prof. Tale Omole led administration, which has made poor parents to go out of their way to pay for the profit-first logic of the institution. We call on the OAU Students’ Union to reject this hike and organise actions against its implementation.
If this current pattern of fee hikes continues, then education in coming period would be an exclusive right of the rich, and luxury for the poor majority. We demand adequate funding of education and democratic management of education to include elected representatives of education workers and students. We also demand improvement in the quality, facilities and conditions of existing tertiary institutions and the establishment of more schools to address the shortage of admission spaces.