Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The House of Representatives has directed the Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission (NUC) to immediately abolish the payment of acceptance fees in tertiary institutions in the country.
The directive followed the adoption of a motion brought by the Hon. Chinedu Martins at the plenary yesterday, calling for the abolishment of acceptance fee in tertiary institutions.
He said education as a necessary tool to unlock human potential and drive national development, adding that the advancement or otherwise of any nation is directly dependent on the number of its citizens who have access to education, especially up to the tertiary education level.
Martins noted that recent data from the NUC showed that out of a population of over 180 million, only about two million people are enrolled in the universities nationwide, representing one percent of the population.
This, the lawmaker said, clearly indicated that the proportion of the population attending tertiary institutions in the country is low when compared to other advanced countries.
He stressed further that the additional data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) showed that between 2010 and 2015, of the 10 million applicants that sought admissions into tertiary institutions, only 26 percent gained admissions, indicating that about 75 percent of the applicants fail to gain admissions every year, which is also reinforcing the fact that access to tertiary education is low in Nigeria.
Martins expressed concern that one of the factors contributing to poor access to tertiary education is the predatory admission policies being enforced by tertiary institutions, particularly the requirement for payment of non-refundable acceptance fees as a condition for admissions.
The lawmaker lamented that many federally-operated tertiary institutions charge as much as N30, 000 per student, while some states and private institutions charge significantly more.
For instance, Martins alleged that the University of Ibadan charges N35,000; University of Lagos, N20,000; Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), N30,000; Imo State University, N70,000, and Lagos State University (LASU), N20,000.
He expressed worries that applicants are expected to pay the acceptance fees within a short deadline despite having gone through the tortuous process of paying and sitting for the Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE), the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) and making the cut off mark, stressing that if they are unable to meet the deadline, the applicants are surcharged for late payment with the risk of losing the offered admissions.
According to him, “If the exploitative admission practices of tertiary institutions in the country are left unchecked, the aspirations of indigent Nigerians to study in universities will continue to be cut short because of their inability to pay the acceptance fees.”
In his submission, Hon. Dimeji Abejide said he believed that all the House members representing their constituencies had access to education, stressing that if they were not educated, they won’t be in the chamber contributing to the national development.
Abejide wondered why the universities being funded by the government are still charging such fee, saying: “I don’t know what they are using this money for, and this issue of a criminal way of extorting students must be abolished.”
The House, therefore, called “on the Federal Ministry of Education and the NUC to immediately abolish the payment of acceptance fees in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
“We mandate the Committee on Tertiary Education and Services to investigate the admission policies and practices of tertiary institutions in the country as they relate to the charge of acceptance fees in order to remove all obstacles to accessing tertiary education in the country.”