Kano — Students of Bayero University Kano (BUK) have faulted what they describe as sudden increase in accommodation cost and other charges by the authorities.
The news of the increase, which appeared in a weekly official bulletin, reportedly took the students including the Students Union Government (SUG) by surprise as they were on their second semester exam when the fee hike was announced.
This prompted the SUG to swiftly move against the development on the grounds that it was not consulted. It issued a one-week ultimatum to the authorities to rescind the decision.
The university's Senate had to eat a humble pie by admitting its error after leaving students out of the resolution.
Some of the students who spoke with Daily Trust expressed dismay over the hike, which they said, would further aggravate the difficulties faced by many whose parents could barely afford registration fees.
A 300L student of Mass Communication, who pleaded for anonymity, said "I feel really bad; I am not happy at all. I was not expecting something like that at this time when we are barely managing to survive the difficulties of studies."
She said the hostel facilities were not even in good shape that could warrant the school authority to increase fees, adding that "we are actually not comfortable in the hostels. If they want to increase the charges, they should first of all renovate the hostels, especially Ramat Hall.
"I am telling you even at the current fees, some have no option than to squat with friends and the situation is really pathetic."
She alleged that some students who have the means to live off campus have turned the bed space into a lucrative business. She said they applied for it and subsequently sell it out to other students who desperately need it.
"When the bed space was N12,090, these students applied for it and later resell at N20, 000 to N30, 000. With the fee hike now only God knows how much it will cost. I am pleading with the management to maintain the normal price," she said.
Another student said the increase in hostel fees was an increase in the hardship of the students, especially those from poor families.
"Some of the students hardly get food to eat let alone pay for hostel fees. I tell you some depend on their friends to survive in the school," he said.
When contacted, however, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Fees and Charges, Professor Haruna Wakili, said it was normal for the committee to meet at the end of every session to see if there was need for a review after receiving requests from departments, faculties and units for either increase in fees or introduction of new charges.
"These are things that are normally done, they are not new, and you know the reality. The reality is that cost of everything has increased and we cannot just remain stagnant; charging the same fees and the services expected are not commensurate to the fees," he said.
He said the one aspect that was misconstrued in the fee increase saga, was the equalization of both foreign and local postgraduate students, in which some reports had it that it had been increased from N60,000 to N80, 000.
"What happened was that foreign postgraduate students were paying N60,000 while Nigerian postgraduate students were paying N80,000 and we see that as unfair, so we decided to make it equal for everybody. So if there is any increase, it is on the foreign students that we said they should pay equal with their Nigerian counterparts," he said.
He said in terms of registration fees, the only increase was N200, as against the fake reports that it was increased from N30,000 to N70,000.
He added that the only area where the students had a point was in the hostel fees which he said affected only 18 per cent of the students.
"This issue of hostel fees was an oversight that we left the SUG out while discussing about it, but we sat with them today (Monday) and I had to apologize to them, because it is the first time we left them out.
"We have received their grievance and I assure you that we are going to look into it and there may be some adjustments as we are sensitive; we know the feelings of the students," he assured.
When contacted, Secretary of the SUG Comrade Mahmoud Yazid, confirmed the meeting with the DVC (Admin), saying that the major issue affecting the students was that of increase in hostel fees, adding that "the university management had promised to revisit the issue. We are waiting to see what will be the outcome of their review."