Students in year one offering different courses in the sciences such as engineering, agriculture, physics, chemistry and mathematics at Fourah Bay College (FBC), University of Sierra Leone, have called on government to come to their aid and offer them Government Grant-In-Aid.
Some of the students told this medium that they are under duress from the university administration to pay fees for the first semester registration process.
They claimed that the college administration through the Registry Department has repetitively pressured them to pay the specified fees for the first year before they would be allowed to register for the 2019/2020 academic year.
On 6th November, 2018, the Bio led administration through the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education issued out a press release, informing newly admitted science students for the 2018/2019 academic year that they were automatically awarded the Sierra Leone Grant-In-Aid. As part of the free quality education programme, government promised to continue paying fees for all students offering sciences in all public institutions across the country.
Jonathan Ellie is a year one student of the Department of Engineering, FBC. He craved the indulgence of government to continue with the said laudable initiative of paying fees for students in the sciences.
Ellie further called on the New Direction administration to go into negotiation with the university authorities to allow them register for the 2019/2020 academic year
Talking to Concord Times, Rashid Bangura, another year one student in the Department of Engineering and Architecture, said the university authorities have been threatening them to pay fees or risk not being registered for the first semester.
He said based on the consistent demand by the university authorities for year one students in the sciences to pay fees, he had to manage and paid five million two hundred and sixty-eight thousand Leones (Le 5,268,000) amidst the current precarious financial conditions facing his parents.
He said the college authorities promised to refund any fees paid by students should government decides to pay for those in the sciences for the 2019/2020 academic year.
"The university authorities are threatening us to pay our fees if not; we will not be allowed to register for the semester. Based on that threat from the university authorities, I have paid my fees which the university authority promised to pay back if the government decides to pay for students in the sciences for this 2019/2020 academic year," he lamented.
After fruitless effort to get the side of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Gilbert Cooper, with regards the status quo of those set of students, the Deputy Registrar at FBC, Munda J.S Lebbie, confirmed to Concord Times that indeed they have asked all year one students in the sciences to pay fees for the 2019/2020 academic year.
He said government has only paid fees for students in the sciences who were admitted for the 2018/2019 academic year.
"The government has only awarded Grant-In-Aid to students in the sciences for the 2018/2019 academic year. And all I know so far is that government has not released any notice for these newly admitted students in the sciences for the 2019/2020 academic year," he said.