After a series of protest by students of the Lagos State University (LASU) against the exorbitant increase in tuition fees imposed on them by the Lagos State Government, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Wednesday approved a 60 percent reduction in the school fees being paid by students of the university.
At a news conference this afternoon at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Ikeja, Lagos, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education, Otunba Fatai Olukoga read a 17-point resolution of the ad-hoc committee as approved by the State Executive Council headed by Fashola.
He said government has agreed a reduction of tuition ranging from 34 to 60 percent across the different faculties and courses, saying that the Governing Council of the school would now decide what percentage reduction of the fee should be paid by different faculties and courses.
Olukoga said after extensive deliberation on the report of the ad-hoc committee, the State Executive Council made observation and resolution regarding the fees and recent actions embarked upon by staff and students of the university.
“Government remains fully committed to the development of the state university as a centre of academic excellence and will continue to deploy resources at its disposal towards the provision of a conducive learning environment with up-to-date facilities.
“While government recognizes the right of individuals and groups to associate freely and protest, it notes with emphasis that these rights do not suspend the criminal laws. Neither can they justify actions that show disrespect for or trample upon the freedom and rights of other members of the society,” he said.
He said deriving from the foregoing, damage to property, blockage of highways or other acts of public nuisance were punishable offences under the criminal law of Lagos State and could be justified or excused under the guise of public protests as society itself would be at risk of perpetual disturbance by sundry interest groups.
He said government, however, commended the students for taking up the invitation to participate in the resolution of matters affecting their lives when they met with the governor, saying that their response by way of detailed observations and suggestions had assisted government in taking a second look at the issues in contention.
According to him, in welcoming the submission of the students, he said government reiterated the fact that it was not inflexible or resistant to change where such is justifiable, stressing that government’s commitment to continue subsidising university education was a deeply-ingrained policy adopted to ensure that no willing and able student is left behind.
“Despite the foregoing, the ad-hoc committee has recommended and government has accepted that the fees and charges payable by students for incidental services and materials are amendable to a downward review. Some of the fee components have been applied to students across all levels when in fact they can be justifiably limited to students at a particular level only while some of the charges included can still be reduced on compassionate grounds.
“On the basis of these principles, government agrees that with the subsidised tuition fees and appropriate moderation of the incidental fees, a reduction ranging from 34 percent to 60 percent is possible across the different faculties and courses.
“Government has therefore approved the reduction and, in accordance with the law setting up the university, forwarded its approval to the Lagos State University Governing Council for consideration and implementation. Pursuant to its mandate, the university’s Governing Council will issue details of what is now payable by students in each department and deal with all other management matters of the university. All individuals and groups within the community are advised to relate with the university council accordingly,” he explained.
Olukoga noted that notwithstanding the approval of reduced fees for students in the institution, government would retain and continue with its enhanced scholarship and bursary provisions while the research fund sponsored by the government would also be sustained to foster a culture of research and innovation in the university.
He assured that government would also sustain its increased spending on infrastructure and physical development of the campus, which had already begun, to enhance the stature of LASU as a leading institution of higher learning in Nigeria, hoping that with the resolution of the fee issue, staff unions at the university would immediately call off their strike and ensure the resumption of normal academic activities.