Earlier fee spike leaves thousands desperate ahead of exam

Usman Isah Abdulrahman, a second-year crop science student at the Federal University Dutse (FUD), is one of about 4,000 students who come from Kano State and who, following a spike in fees, may miss his upcoming examinations and repeat a semester – or risk dismissal from the university.

Abdulrahman lost his father, who was responsible for his study bills, in June 2022. His mother, a widow and mother of nine children, is now the breadwinner of the family. But she is a petty trader and has only been able to pay 60% of the fees he owes. As a result, his future is uncertain as the payment window closed on 15 November.

FUD is one of many universities that, in January 2023, announced a 200% increment. Later, in February 2023, amid several pleas, the university announced a reduction in the registration fees while allowing students to pay in two instalments – 60% in the first semester and 40% in the second semester.

Abdulrahman was supposed to pay NGN60,000 (about US$72) but, due to increases, it has gone up to NGN100,000 (about US$118) – an upsurge of almost 67%.

“I was seriously affected by the increase in this tuition fee. It is now three weeks until the exam and I cannot concentrate,” he told University World News.

Governor was asked for help

The National Association of Kano State Students (NAKSS) said about 4,000 of its members cannot afford the university’s tuition fees after the increase, which will exclude them from second-semester examinations.

Some of the affected FUD students protested on 7 November, pleading with the government and relevant stakeholders to help them pay their outstanding fees to enable them to sit the second-semester examination, which begins next week.

Yunusa Ibrahim, the spokesperson of the Kano State Students’ union, told University World News that, out of the more than 7,000 students from Kano studying at FUD, which is in Jigawa State, about 3,000 were able to pay the new tuition fees. However, the remaining 4,000, representing 60% of the population, might miss their examinations.

Ibrahim stated that the student body had written several letters to the Kano state government but nothing tangible has been done, noting that the same government paid for their counterparts with similar issues at the Bayero University, Kano.

In response to the student body’s letter on 18 September 2023, the state governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, in a letter signed by Bashir Yusuf Al-Awwal for the governor’s chief of staff, acknowledged the letter, directing the students to meet the relevant ministry.

The students, who are funded by the state where they reside (Kano), instead of the state where they study (Jigawa), complied with the directive but have not received any further response so far.

University World News sent text messages and calls to ask information from Kano state’s commissioner of higher education, Dr Yusuf Ibrahim Kofar Mata, but has not received any feedback.

Tough times for poor students

Students who cannot afford the increased fees spoke to University World News.

“I was managing to pay my fees through a combination of personal savings, part-time work, and I have almost zero support from family or anyone else,” said Yusuf Marwan Sa’ad, who studies economics at the university.

Some concerned students, like Fatimah Abdulhamid Muhammad, a level-three or third-year student of botany, have started engaging in menial jobs like sales help, restaurant essential works and part-time work to pay off the first instalments. But she has not earned enough for the second instalment.

Jide Ojo, a development consultant, sympathised with concerned students and urged them to follow all legitimate means to ensure they do not drop out.

“The students should come together and come out to make a personal appeal to the governor to look into their plights as well as well-meaning Nigerians, wealthy individuals and other philanthropic foundations to come to their aid so that they will not have to drop out of schools,” he said.