VOX POP: Fees, the Face of Uncertainty, and the Fate of Freshmen

Earlier last month, freshmen resuming to the University of Ibadan reported seeing the fees schedule for the session released on the students’ portal, with a 400-750% increase from the previous session. Expectedly, this elicited reactions from various quarters, mostly voicing concerns about the increased burden for the average student. Subsequently, the Students’ Union swung into action, seeking audience with Management to arrive at a favourable resolution. These efforts, however, have largely yielded no results, as the fees have still remained, and resumption is approaching.

In fact, in a special release dated 13 May, the Registrar, G.O. Saliu, asserted that “deadlines for registration shall no longer be extended once fixed”, advising students that requests for such extensions “will no more be attended to with effect from the 2023/2024 academic session.” Although no deadlines have yet been fixed, with a bundle fee of N238,500, technology levy of N20,000, Utility levy of N20,000, and hostel fee of N60,000, 100 level UIMSAites must have ready nothing less than N338,500 for the session. Correspondents of UIMSA Press therefore decided to speak with some 100 level members of the association to hear their opinions on the issue and how they intend to navigate the situation.

“I dismissed it as a glitch”

Almost all the individuals we spoke to reported that they expressed shock upon learning about the new fees schedule. “It was about the first or second week of virtual lectures when we were told to log in to our student portals. So I just decided to check the fees section and I was surprised to see a bundle fee of N238,500. But I dismissed it as a glitch. Until a few days after when we were told that payment of fees was to start on the 15th of April or so and the fees still remained unchanged,” IfeOluwa said. “At this point I began to feel uneasy and uncertain about how to go about payment.”

Another student who pleaded anonymity had a similar experience. “I received the news on a group chat… at first I thought it was a joke until I saw screenshots of the fees. My initial reaction was it’s just a glitch. Our set was always having glitches so I really thought the fees would get reduced because it was going to be so unfair to increase the price that much.”

Commenting on whether the fee hike was justified, Elizabeth said, “I don’t think it is, because federal schools and universities are there to relieve the burden of paying expensive fees. Why would civil servants who work for the government not be able to enjoy any benefits? It’s not as if they increased their salary.” Emmanuel also shared this sentiment of affordability when he remarked, “I don’t think so, with regards to the nation’s economy. People are finding it hard to even survive at the very least nowadays.” Another student, pleading anonymity, added, “The fee hike is not justified. As said by the school, the school might be underfunded, but since it’s a federal school, that responsibility should be that of the Federal Government. Moreso, if there should be an increase, the school should have notified the students earlier to make good consideration as many, including me, planned their total payable fees with last session’s.”

Michael expressed ambivalence, however. “I have to judge both sides to conclude if it is justified or not. The fee hike will discourage many students, especially those who are not from a well-to-do home. Many of us attend a Federal University not only because of high standards but because of the moderate fees… Judging from the school’s side, I feel the school has given its best reasons for the increments, considering the country’s present economy, but this after all, is not the fault of the students and it should not in any way be a burden for us as students to bear. Hence, from my point of view, the fee hike is not justified.” David, however, felt otherwise. “Yes, [it is justified]; I heard that the education subsidy was removed plus I had heard the increase from other universities before this point. The education subsidy, I believe, had a significant role in reduced fees.”

“They are still hoping the SU does something about it”

When asked for their sponsors’ comments on the issue and coping with the increased financial burden, Tife said, “My parents [sponsor my education]. They are aware and they are still hoping the Students’ Union does something about it.” Emmanuel concurred, “When they heard of it, they hoped that it’d get revised to a more considerate[sic] one. But now that there’s been no results, they are going to have to source for the money anyway they can.”

Another parent-sponsored student, pleading anonymity, stated, “They were in disbelief to hear from me I will be paying around N340,000 (including hostel fee) when I’d[sic] actually told them everything will not cost more than N160,000 (hostel fee included).” She continued, “It has appeared to take a toll on them, but I’m still able to cope due to their help.” David also remarked, “My parents are aware and are indifferent. They are aware of the country’s situation and they see this just as another school fee to pay… I would say we’ve been able to cope, the same way we are managing the inflation in the country. There is less money in hand, I presume, but God provides.”

Regarding coping however, not everyone is as lucky. “My parents are aware, but the money isn’t even available. They’re also helpless and waiting on the SU to make some move,” Elizabeth lamented. Another self-sponsored student simply said that it had not been easy; and most of the others similarly complained about not being able to cope.

“I have seen quite a number of students paying”

When asked if they had paid, all responded in the negative. “I haven’t paid because I believe the UISU is doing all they can to reason with the school management and me paying would just sully their efforts,” IfeOluwa explained.

When asked if they would follow the UISU’s directive to not pay fees, in light of the Registrar’s release, they acknowledged it was a tough call. One student, pleading anonymity, said, “I think that freshers would be obliged to follow the Registrar’s deadline. We dey fear sef. We are just waiting for the deadline and hoping that SU can do something within that time. But I would follow the Registrar. The deadline of school fees is still 2 weeks to exam (so I heard). My mom won’t allow me to not pay, after waiting for 3 years and lots of disappointments. She’d rather sacrifice a lot of things than for me to risk it.” Omotola shared a similar view: “For now, there’s no registration deadline so we’ll keep waiting but once there’s a deadline, I’ll pay by God’s grace.”

However, another student, advocating solidarity with the SU, commented, “I think I’ll follow the UISU till it’s clear that nothing can be done. I hope something can be done actually though. I believe we should support each other. All for one, one for all. The more people are against it, the higher the chances. The fact anyone can somehow afford the very ‘exorbitant fee’ doesn’t mean it’s not still outrageous. So, I believe we should stand down for now, till the signals say otherwise. I don’t believe that the UISU will still ask us to stand down when they see it’s beyond their control and the date is very close. So, the least we can do is support them.” Emmanuel added, “I’ll follow the UISU because I don’t think the school fees has a close deadline for now.”

One student, sharing additional interesting thoughts, said, “I will follow the UISU, one because it is the right thing to do, and [two, because] I cannot even afford it. It’s quite obvious that the game the school is trying to play is a psychological one. The statement from the registrar pushed many students to pay because of the naivety and fear of missing the deadline.” Another student, commenting on this fear, added, “They haven’t put a deadline yet. If they put a deadline I’ll pay before the deadline. A lot of people are already scared because of that email, I know at least two people who have paid because of the fear.”

We may recall that last session, the SU sent a release concerning the payment of laboratory fees, but students eventually paid the fees. While many of those we interviewed expressed optimism that this won’t be the case this time around, this optimism has barely been able to hold up for others in light of recent developments. One student said, “I am optimistic but at the same time, I have seen quite a number of students paying.” Elizabeth conceded, “I’m not really optimistic, the result of the last meeting with the School Management was not encouraging.” Another student also commented, “Optimistic or not, we’re going to pay it eventually if we’re to continue our study in UI. The SU have met with the school management concerning the issue and it wasn’t a positive one, so I’m less optimistic now. Even if they reduce it, I feel the reduction won’t be significant since it seems we’re now at their mercy.”

“I know a friend who may forfeit this admission”

Furthermore, we asked them whether they had any concerns about how this development will affect access to education to students from low-income backgrounds, especially in light of the current economic situation. They expressed dissatisfaction. “Low income family? Yes, I’m one of them. But God has been pushing us through. I honestly feel for us; I know of a friend that might forfeit this admission if things do not improve,” one declared. Lamenting, another added, “I’m greatly concerned. The unstable state of the economy has left many people in a state of uncertainty even about where their next meal will come from. If one child’s school fees exceeds a family’s monthly income, how are they to survive?” Emmanuel also remarked, “The fee hike will petrify students from low-income backgrounds and they may be left to opt out of school or just attend a low ranked tertiary institution.”

Most of them also believed that prospective students would thus be deterred from applying to the university. “Yes, it will [deter them],” Elizabeth declared. “Most students attend Federal Universities because they aren’t expensive. Now that school fees have been increased, I believe applications will reduce.” One student observed, “Apart from high standards, one major thing to watch out for while applying to a school is the financial aspect. Prospective students will definitely opt for a university that would fit their pockets.” Another noted, “Yes, because other federal universities are paying lesser fees, e.g. OAU).”

Expressing disapproval, IfeOluwa commented, “I do believe it will. But the fact that the fees were released shortly after JAMB registration was concluded was actually a very wicked move on the side of the management because many students who can’t afford to pay will have to wait another year to apply to other schools that are less expensive.” Emmanuel, sharing a similar sentiment, added, “Yes, I strongly believe that it’s even scared away students with great potential who find it hard to even fend [for themselves] talk less of paying that huge amount for education.” Omotola, citing an encounter with one, noted, “Yes, it will. One of my friends that took the 2024 UTME even chatted me to ask if the UI fee increase was real so he’ll change his university and not apply to UI.”

Some others disagreed, however. One stated, “Not really; all their other options fees are also high at the moment and might later be further increased after their session. Moreso, people actually care more about the standard than the price, it’s just that the affordability can be an added edge. If at all it will deter prospective students, the percentage will be very low.” Another student observed, “No. it becomes the new reality and the schools that are sought after remain so. The hike affected all schools.”

“Is there really any other choice?”

Finally, we asked them what steps they would take should the fees remain at the current cost. “Is there really any other choice? Pay or go home. Considering the struggle of getting the admission, of course, I will pay it, and many others will pay too. Only a minute quantity may not be able to pay,” one student complained. Another said they would keep praying and also applying for scholarships. “I guess I don’t have a choice but to pay, I pray God provides,” another commented. Expressing dismay, another said, “I will have no option than to pay. I’m already being[sic] looked upon as the future of the family. It has been decided that my younger sister and brother will stay out of school for now until things improve… I can’t disappoint.”

Elizabeth said she would probably try out the student loans. While some stated that they were not sure or had no plans to apply for these, others said they would consider it should all else fail: “Nigeria has forced us to learn to find ways to navigate issues, and so one has to explore every legal opportunity available, even when one does not agree with it.”


These are uncertain times, and while it is clear that students across all levels will be significantly affected by these developments on fees, the truth remains that freshmen are more likely to experience it in an accentuated light. We may only keep hoping that history will be kind on us.

Igdaliah Otitoola, Afeezah Wojuade, Daniel Akintayo, and Emmanuel Ibitunde

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