Rights group recently called out the Federal Government to abolish acceptance fees into all tertiary institutions in the country, saying the practice amounts to an extortion of the students.
These fees vary and could be given different names depending on what the institution prefers. Observers described it as smartest way of extorting students and their parents.
Recently, a rights group, One Love Foundation, based in Edo State had called on the Federal Government to scrap the payment of acceptance fee in higher institutions.
The group lamented the fate of the poor masses whose academic pursuits have been truncated due to their inability to pay the thousands of money being demanded as acceptance fee before they could be admitted into the universities.
They revealed that many state-owned tertiary institutions charge as much as N40,000 to N60,000 per student while some federal institutions even charge more.
The Guardian’s check across the institutions on acceptance fee shows that the University of Ibadan (UI) charges N35, 000, Lagos State University (LASU) charges N20, 000; University of Lagos (UNILAG), 20,000; Osun State University (UNIOSUN), N40, 000 for a degree programme. Also, Yaba College of Technology (YabaTECH) charges between N15,000-N17,000; while Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (AOCOED) charges N7,500 for fulltime NCE and N10,000 for part time.
Coordinator of the group, Mr. Patrick Osagie Eholor, said: “These fees pose additional hardship and obstacles to tertiary education aspiration of our well-meaning youths and parents whose enthusiastic votes brought the present administration to power.”
Peter Ibekwe (not real name) was offered admission for a PhD programme at UNILAG in 2014. He paid N50, 000 as acceptance fee. Afterwards, he made additional payment of N150, 000 as school fees, but due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to proceed for the programme. By chance or by circumstance, UNILAG briskly gained N200, 000 into its purse, as the fees are non-refundable.
A parent, Mrs. Loretta Igwe, said it is only the “Federal Government’s intervention that will properly address the issue. Just like government did with the post-UTME, if government truly cares about the wellbeing of the masses, it should make a formal pronouncement on the subject matter, announce a uniform fee and these universities, polytechnics and colleges of education will abide by it.
“It is also worthy of note that Nigerians are not aware of any meaningful project these institutions have carried out with acceptance fee. Yes it goes into the purse of the school, what happens after that? Where do they invest the money? All these should be probed, if the money cannot be accounted for, then it should be abolished completely,” she said.
But former vice chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Ota, Prof. Adebayo Adeyemi, did not support abrogation of acceptance fee in tertiary institutions, as he considered it as a component of the admission process. Rather, he advised that it be regulated with a stipulated percentage of the total fees for the first year.
He said it is a commitment on the part of the candidate as an evidence of the willingness to take up the offer of admission.
“Payment of acceptance fee has always been a component of admission exercise in any tertiary institution which is an expression of interest by the candidate offered admission. The convention is to treat the acceptance fee as part payment for the total fee to be paid by the candidate. However, if the candidate fails to take up the admission, he/she loses the acceptance fee earlier paid. The amount charged varies, especially between public and private institutions.
In public institutions, it used to be nominal, which, progressively has been increased and some times a certain percentage of the tuition or whichever fees are charged in public institutions. For private universities, a substantially higher amount could be charged compared to public institutions, which could be relative to normal tuition.”
On whether these universities are being fair to students with the charges, he said, “My take on the fairness is that the acceptance fee should be relative to the total fees to be paid by new students. A situation where the total fees to be paid in a public university for first year, hypothetically, is N100, 000, the acceptance fee should not be more than N20, 000, leaving a balance of eighty thousand naira to be paid on resumption. I will be more comfortable with a minimal and an optimal percentage of 10 and 20 per cent of total fees respectively.”
As a former university administrator, Adeyemi said universities, if properly funded should be able to survive without acceptance fee.
“My experience is painted in the following scenario: At the end of the academic year, most if not all the Nigerian institutions, whether private or public, would have exhausted all funds earned from annual subventions, whether from the government or the proprietor, and fees which form the substantial percentage of internally generated revenue (IGR).
“It is the gap between the end of the academic year when all fees would have been collected and spent, and the commencement of a new session that most institutions are usually in a fix to pay salaries and to keep the institution running. Therefore, the only option would be through collection of acceptance fees as a stopgap to ensure not only payment of salaries but also to meet the cost of essential services. This would be the pattern of running most of our institutions unless proper and adequate funding is ensured.”