Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola
By Uchechukwu Nnaike
Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday defended the recent fee regime for fresh students of the state university (LASU), saying that it was one of the many recommendations of the visitation panel set up by the government to restore the image of the institution and position it for greater academic excellence.
Fashola, who made this known in his remarks at the 17th convocation ceremony of the university, argued that even in the most powerful nations of the world, people pay good money to get an education that they otherwise would not have attained if they did not borrow to fund it.
“These are the same universities some of us export our children to, these institutions are not pretending about the standard of their education, which they are able to maintain partly from the fees that they charge. Why are we willing to pay abroad to foreign lecturers and to foreign institutions and unwilling to do the same at home?”
He said the government made a provision of N50 million in this year’s budget alone for scholarships to mitigate the effect of the school fees for those who cannot afford it. “Whereas indigent students abroad have to borrow to go to school, the government is providing scholarship and bursary for indigent students to give them the same opportunity and education that the children of the rich can get,” he said.
He advocated equal opportunities in the same universities for both the children of the rich and children of the poor.
To develop together, rather than pretending to run a university that is free or cheap where the elites would never send their children. “This will not only segregate our society and our future leaders along rich and poor lines, it will segregate our schools along rich and poor lines. I refuse to accept that a society can prosper along those lines.”
Fashola also announced the decision of the management to suspend the award of honorary doctoral degrees, saying that only degrees that are earned by academic work would be conferred.
He said it was inappropriate for any university, whose products are struggling to measure up to globally accepted minimum educational standards should be in the business of conferring honourary degrees on any category of people in the society, no matter how deserving.
According to him, such awards are conferred as a way of honouring contribution to specific fields of human endeavour or contributions to the society in general. “Can we truly say that all the honourary degrees in the society that we have awarded in Law, Engineering, Philosophy, Economics, Agriculture, among others, are truly reflective of the value added?”
While condemning the increasing appetite for any type of title among members of the society, he said the award would be suspended “until we begin to see an improvement in the quality of life of the people. I cannot reconcile the award of honourary degrees with the level of under development in the society.”