“Don’t Celebrate Yet”: Report Explains Why FG's Loan Act Isn’t Favourable to Students

“Don’t Celebrate Yet”: Report Explains Why FG's Loan Act Isn’t Favourable to Students

  • Education experts and stakeholders have criticised one of the clauses stipulated in the Student Loan Act
  • Clause 3 of the Student Loan Act says students will only be granted loans to pay tuition fees
  • However, this is contrary to the existing provision of the law of the 1999 constitution that prohibits tuition charges in federal institutions

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FCT, Abuja - A new report has explained the intricacies of the newly signed Student Loan Act by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

The report by Daily Trust discloses that the federal government will now introduce tuition fees in government-owned higher institutions (universities, polytechnics, and others).

Student Loan Bill, ASUU
Education experts and stakeholders have revealed that the newly signed Student Loan Act is not what the public thinks it is. Photo Credit: @officialABAT
Source: Twitter

Since signing the bill on Monday, June 12, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has received numerous applause from different entities in the educational sector.

However, many need to understand the intricacies and implications for prospective Nigerian students' future.

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Educational experts and stakeholders gave a rundown on the bill's implications to students and how it is unfavourable to them as against how they have perceived it.

It was gathered that tuition fees have always been free in government tertiary institutions, though, excluding other charges that are usually attached to students' school fees.

It is believed that the tuition waiver has since been the reason why many Nigerians have been able to attend school.

However, the latest report has confirmed that the introduction of the student loan bill means students will no longer enjoy the benefits of tuition waiver.

The position of the law on the loan scheme

As stipulated in Clause 3 of the Students Loan Act, it says:

“The loans referred to in this Act shall be granted to students only for the payment of tuition fees.”

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According to the report, the above clause gives an opposite view of the existing provisions about tuition fees being accessible in a public institution.

However, the Student Loan Act holds that students can access tertiary education through interest-free Nigerian Education Loan Fund loans.

The act reads:

“All students seeking higher education in any public institution of higher learning in Nigeria shall have equal right to access the loans under this Act without any discrimination arising from gender, religion, tribe, position or disability of any kind.”

Furthermore, students' access to the loan will be on the premise of meeting some requirements stipulated under the Act.

It, however, noted that the grant of the loan to any student under the Act shall be subject to the applicant satisfying the requirements and conditions set out under this Act.

ASUU, educationists react to Student Loan Act

To further elaborate on the disadvantages of the student loan bill, the President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, revealed that the bill could prove hazardous to many prospective students.

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Prof Osodeke said:

“A country where more than 133 million are living below the poverty line and you want to introduce tuition fees? It will be counterproductive.
“Every Nigerian should know what is going to happen next and there may likely be another bill waiting for signature that will introduce tuition fees. If the bill indicated that the loan is to pay tuition fees and there are no tuition fees in Nigerian universities, then what is your next approach,” he asked.

Prof Ben Ugwoke from the University of Abuja also attested that public institutions are not allowed to charge students tuition fees as stipulated in the 1999 constitution except for other miscellaneous charges that keep the school running.

While referring to the Student Loan Act that introduces tuition levies into public institutions, Prof Ugwoke said:

“To the naive, it means relief but to my mind, I think it means higher charges are on the horizon for students.”

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Similarly, Prof Nasiru Medugu Idris of Nasarawa State University Keffi revealed that the new Student Loan Act would cause an increment in tuition fees for students.

When the Federal Ministry of Education was contacted to clarify clause 3 of the act, the Director of Press, Bem Ben Goong, said the ministry would address a press conference on Wednesday to clarify all issues and, as such, had no comment.

"N500,000 fine or imprisonment": FG lists penalty for refusal to pay back student loan

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has introduced a policy to enable students in tertiary institutions to get interest-free loans to pay for tuition.

As interesting as the loan is, it can only be approved for students that meet certain conditions.

Students who default from paying back the loans at the agreed period will be prosecuted by legal means.

Source: Legit.ng

Segun Adeyemi avatar

Segun Adeyemi (Current Affairs and Politics Editor) Segun Adeyemi is a journalist with over 9 years of experience as an active field reporter, editor, and editorial manager. He has had stints with Daily Trust newspaper, Daily Nigerian, and News Digest. He currently works as an editor for Legit.ng's current affairs and politics desk. He holds a degree in Mass Communication (Adekunle Ajasin University). He is a certified digital reporter by Reuters, AFP and the co-convener of the annual campus journalism awards. Email: segun.adeyemi@corp.legit.ng.

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