Students’ Loan: FG To Introduce Tuition Fees In University

The federal government is set to introduce tuition fees in federal universities, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions following the signing of the Student Loan Bill by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The bill, which is now an act of parliament was signed on Monday, a development widely celebrated in many quarters without understanding the implication of the new law for the millions of prospective students who rely on tuition-free higher institutions of learning to acquire knowledge.

Educationists and other stakeholders said this would have wider implications.

In Nigeria, tuition, which runs into hundreds of thousands of naira or even millions of naira in private universities, is free in government schools at both national and state levels.

The situation has been the same since independence, even though some charges for other issues such as accommodation, departmental, and course registration, among others vary from one institution to another.

The waiver of tuition has given millions of students the opportunity to go to school, but observers say the introduction of a student loan scheme by the federal government means an end to tuition-free education.

There was no immediate response from the Federal Ministry of Education

What the law says

Clause 3 of the Students Loan Act says: “The loans referred to in this Act shall be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees.”

This clause contravenes the existing provision that says tuition is free in public institutions.

Meanwhile, the question of tuition in Nigerian institutions is a constitutional matter vide Chapter 2 of the amended 1999 Constitution. By the provisions of that chapter, no publicly owned institution is permitted and it is illegal for any one of them to charge tuition fees on any citizen of the country.

According to the Act establishing the law, the Student Loan Bill would provide easy access to higher education for indigent Nigerians through interest-free loans from the Nigerian Education Loan Fund.

As enacted by the National, the Act shall apply to all matters pertaining to the application and grant of loans to Nigerians seeking higher education into institutions of higher learning in Nigeria through the Nigerian Education Loan Fund.

“All students seeking higher education in any public institution of higher learning in Nigeria shall have equal right to access the loans under this Act without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind,” the act reads.

It, however, noted that the grant of the loan to any student under the Act shall be subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements and conditions set out under this Act.

the public institutions in Nigeria to levy higher charges on students,” he said.

According to him, “To the naive, it means relief but to my mind, I think it means higher charges are on the horizon for students.”

For Professor Nasiru Medugu Idris of Nasarawa State University Keffi, “Tuition fees will remain the same or even higher. This is because the students’ loan will strictly be for the purpose of tuition fees. So no abolition of tuition fees in Nigerian universities.”

He said parents might think that it is a kind of relief for them but actually this is not because students’ living expenses per semester are very huge.

“School’s tuition fee maybe 10 to 20 per cent of students’ expenditure per semester. Therefore parents and students should not celebrate the signing of the act for now until they have accessed the loan first,” he said.

Mean while, when Daily Trust contacted the Federal Ministry of Education to clarify clause 3 of the act, via a text message to the Permanent Secretary, David Adejo, through the Director of Press, Bem Ben Goong, the director said the ministry will address a press conference on Wednesday to clarify all issues and as such had no comment.


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