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Should public universities charge acceptance fee?

On Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Daily Trust used as a front-page story the frustration of parents over the “high acceptance fee” in our public universities (both state and federal).

The acceptance fee, according to the report, ranges from N80,000 (University of Benin) to N10, 000 (Federal University Lokoja and Federal University Dutsinma).

That is not all, however, the list of items the students have to pay for continues to grow.

For instance, following is the list from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria for 2012/2013 session:

Medical services, library, ICT, net library, municipal services, sports, ID card, examinations, faculty charges, acceptance/verification of entry qualification, registration, caution fee, orientation fee and field trip; making a tedious list of 14 items – including the library fee that was double-counted.

In the 2019/2020 session, the 14-item list was maintained but the library and field trip fees were replaced with MSS dues and SRC (Students Representative Council) fee.

Since public universities are supposed to be tuition-free, many of them have found workarounds for charging the same thing. Some people justify this by arguing that the government underfunds education while others think that it is wickedness and a form of corruption.

Personally, while I tend to agree with the latter, I feel the universities should be allowed to charge fees within reason and within the budget of poor students. This can be done by setting a ceiling for the universities and also holding them accountable for what they collect.

But that is only me. Following are what other Nigerians think about the issue.

Dr Habiba: When I went to UDUS in 2006, I don’t recall paying acceptance fee. I think it was introduced later, to reduce the number of students who change schools after collecting admission letters, thereby wasting the slot. Likely a way of getting them to “commit”. However, I don’t think it’s a fair deal, considering the number of students that have struggled with finances, through JAMB, SSCE, POST-UTME, etc. Those that would leave would still do so, either way. Why make the struggling ones struggle more with unnecessary fees?

Sule Ahmadu: Paying a fee for a service rendered is not bad. However, it is the inappropriateness of the nomenclature used that matters; let the fee due for that service be applied into the larger payments to be made.

My argument is predicated on the fact that there are instances where after paying the acceptance fees, students are returned at the point of registration on the simple reason that the department is filled up.

Emmanuel Jesuyon Dansu: The idea of acceptance fee in our public universities never ceases to beat my imagination. Why do students have to pay to show that they have accepted the admission offered to them? Can’t the same purpose be achieved by simple documentation? To my mind, it is simply a way of generating revenue through the back door since public universities are supposed to be tuition-free and government funding has been lacklustre over the years.

Dr Abdullahi Aminu: I didn’t pay acceptance fees as an undergraduate, but I paid ten thousand naira for collecting my admission letter for MSc(repr. health) in 2015/2016.

That was in addition to the central registration fees, and departmental registration. I think only the university management can authoritatively explain why they extort such fees but could be a subtle way of boosting their IGR(internally-generated revenue). I just hope and pray that these monies are judiciously utilised for the benefit of the institutions.

In sum, I think public universities should stop charging acceptance fees.

Dr Mukhtar Aliyu: I never paid for acceptance fee or similar fees while at the University. It is a desperate way of generating revenue which mostly ends up being utilized for things with little impact on the quality of student’s life or education. It is an indictment on government’s poor funding of education in our clime, as budgetary allocation for education is generally below par, averaging less than 10 per cent in our country (7.05 in 2019) as against others closer to the UNESCO recommended 20 per cent or above as obtained in more serious countries like Ghana, Egypt and South Africa who we delude ourselves to be bigger than. Bottom line, the acceptance fee is an unnecessary burden on students/parents. And some public universities sometimes without prior notice hike fees by as much as 400 per cent for frivolous reasons. If our Universities fully utilize their potential, there is no reason why they should not sustain themselves and not be able to attract substantial grants from donors/organizations at home and abroad. But like most things Nigerian, the easy way out is preferred

Huzayfy al-futuky: It is corruption. Currently, the acceptance fee for UG in BUK is 10000 and for PG is 15000.

Please, Dr, you should find time to write on the illegal tuition fee paid by MSc students during their 3rd year of the program.  Because it is only the 1st and 2nd-year tuition fee that is paid via remita and the third fee, you would be instructed to pay it via the bank account of the university.

A clear example is BUK.  You can confirm this from  MSc students that are in their 3rd year or those that graduated last year.

Dr A. A. Ahmad: I didn’t pay any acceptance in the university when I gained admission. I feel it’s inappropriate, however with inadequate funding and whatnot, this I think is a ‘sure’ way of extra revenue generation.

But is the fund put to appropriate use? I hope so. Is it global practice? We hope things get better. My view remains no to acceptance fees!

Rasheed Babatunde Adekunle: I paid acceptance fee as an undergraduate in the mid-90s in the Southwest so it’s something that has been in existence for long. But I didn’t pay for it as a post-graduate student in BUK in 2009. Hapless students are simply being ripped off because they have no choice than to pay. As a lecturer friend told me, it’s simply a way for tertiary institutions to boost their IGR. It’s totally unnecessary and the govt has done nothing about it. I hope our lawmakers can summon the courage to put a stop to it. We know most students in public institutions are barely able to get by in school, so it’s simply an unnecessary burden on them and their parents.

On top of that, I hardly think the money generated is put to good use. It’s simply a way for those in authority to feather their nest.

Dr Khaleed Abubakar Abubakar: Payment of acceptance is unreasonably introduced in our varsities to increase IGR. It was not there during my UG time in BUK. I first faced it in 2007 when I got a Master’s admission in ABU. As the staff of the university, we challenged the payment through the ASUU ABU chapter and it was waved for us in that year only. In my general opinion, the policy is wrong as it is only done in Nigerian universities. And I see it as extortion, as students pay for a processing fee, thus asking them to pay for another related fee (Post UTME fees and PG form purchase/screening fee) put more burden on them, especially in this economic hardship period currently we are facing in the country.

Yunus Rabiu: I think acceptance fees by Nigerian public universities is simply corruption and I think it has no legal backing because I can vividly remember when I collected my admission letter from ABU in 2012/2013, the fee was 3000 and now this year the fee for undergraduate is 5000. I’m not sure what they charge postgraduate students; it’s gradually increasing  and the university claims that it’s acceptance fee/verification entry fee. So, the universities need to explain if verification exercises are not part of their routine activities.

Khalid Imam Kano: Is education free in Nigeria? We have to ask ourselves this very question before we can begin to fault or questions the legality or morality of acceptance fee or otherwise by our universities? I think what we should frown at is the outrageous nature of the charges by some universities. Many of us shouting about it pay an exorbitant fee to the private schools our sons and daughters are attending. Frankly, l am not totally against university charging acceptance fees. What l decry is charging above the roof fees. Our universities must find ways to generate fees internally if we must tell ourselves the hard truth. Education is not totally free in Nigeria. And it is true there is poverty in the land.

Then, the question to pose is what do we do against the reality of our challenging and bad situation? Should we ban our universities from collecting any fee and watch them rot, or should we accept to pay the fees they charged our students and then press them to be accountable? I believe we need our universities. So since we need them we should do the needful to help them survive and prosper.

Engr Musa Haruna Agaie: When I gained admission into the Federal University of Technology Minna in 2003, there was an acceptance letter with laid down rules and regulations to be adhered to but no fee attached to it.

The acceptance fee to me is not morally okay and should be stopped. It’s just not OK to pay a fee to show I accept the admission given to me if I did not like the school I won’t apply there. Acceptance should be based on adherence to stipulated school rules and regulations.

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