EXCLUSIVE FEATURE: Varsity student unrest grips Nigeria, SA
from MASAHUDU KUNATEH, AUGUSTINE OSAYANDE & HANSRAJ KANHYE
JOHANNEBSURG, (CAJ News)- NIGERIA and South Africa are ranked the two biggest economies in the continent but of late, on a negative note, have proved to have one other thing in common- rising discontent among
The reasons vary from the rising cost of tuition fees students believe has made education a preserve of elite to alleged neglect by authorities.
Recently, thousands of South Africa students have taken to the streets for some two weeks in a row over protests to increase university fees.
The protests, which originally started at Wits University when management announced a fee increment of 10,5 percent, has since spread to other institutions where services have ground to a halt.
The recent wave of protests on campuses across South Africa reflect a growing frustration and anger at the continued financial exclusion of students from institutions of higher education, piling the pressure on Minister Blade Nzimande.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country is also experiencing a wave of university unrest.
Recently, some students were injured in a stampede as police fired teargas to protesting scholars at the University of Osun.
In Lagos, the commercial capital, university students recently shut down the facility protesting against alleged neglect by government.
At the two universities, respectively, students protested against a lack of basic services such as light and water.
On several occasions students from the government-owned universities have protested against continues hike in fees.
The students of University of Lagos (UNILAG) have also embarked on protest due to the increase in fees by the school authority.
Students of the University of Jos in Plateau north central Nigeria have staged a protest over increment of tuition fees by the school management.
The Nigerian University System is categorized into two types, those owned by the government and those that is owned by private individual and organizations.
The cost of first degree in the government universities varies between N35 500 ($178) and N47 000.00 ($236).
Students in private own universities such as Veritas in Abuja pay at least N467 000 ($2 344) but his colleague at American University of Nigeria pay of N3,000, 000 ($15 000).
Private universities are seen as a preserve of the elite.
GHANA (by MASAHUDU KUNATEH)
While tension characterizes the tertiary institution in Nigeria and South Africa, Ghana has over the years enjoyed relative calm.
The fees that most tertiary students pay are highly-subsidised by the national and state governments but the fees appear to match those mentioned for Nigeria.
At the University of Ghana, the country’s premier facility, undergraduates studying humanity pay GHC3 355 ($869) for the 2015/2016 academic year.
All students studying science, and agric programmes are paying GHC405 ($105) each for bench and practical fees at the country’s foremost public university during the academic year.
Furthermore, students pursuing applied science and law pay GHC5 800 ($1 500) and GHC3 201$829 respectively.
Commenting on the general peaceful academic environment in Ghana, a renowned Chartered Economist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast, Dr John Gatsi, attributed it to effective and efficient flow of communication between the school authorities and the students in the public universities in the country.
He explained: “The mechanism of determining school fees involves the students’ leadership. So, what is agreed upon normal reflect the interest of the students”.
Where the students’ leadership usually the Students Representative Council (SRC) is not satisfied they consult the rest of the students to get their inputs for further deliberations to ensure that their interest is considered during the school fees determination process, Gatsi stated.
MAURITIUS (by HANSRAJ KANHYE)
Mauritius has always promoted higher education as a public service that should be accessible to all.
The cost university education has rarely been an issue since the introduction of free education at primary, secondary and post-secondary levels in 1976, following student revolts.
Government heavily subsidizes the public sector and regulates its fees. There no plans to raise fees at the ten public institutions that have degree-awarding powers.
Fees are not regulated at private institutions, which award degrees of international universities, mostly British, French and Indian.
At a public institution, such as the University of Mauritius, average annual cost for a full-time degree (course tuition and other general fees) is Rs 50 350 ($1 400 US$).
Many of these programs are also run on a part-time basis to accommodate the needs of working professionals. These programs can be completed in 4 years and the total program costs amount to Rs 225 000 ($6 400).
In most countries, accommodation and transportation costs take up a sizable chunk of the student’s budget. In Mauritius, all students travel free! This caters for international students.
They also get free health care in public hospitals.
In the private sector however, fees are higher.
The annual total cost of reading for an undergraduate degree at the branch campus of a foreign university is between $7 000- $9 000.
These universities attract Mauritian students who would normally have proceeded to the United Kingdom.
– CAJ News
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