About 18,928 out of over 26,000 students of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife reside off-campus. This, as our analysis has shown, implies that at least 72.2% of the students live in Ile-Ife neighbourhoods without the privileges of a more secure and cheap living that come with campus residency.
Students living off-campus are, decidedly, more vulnerable to insecurity and have to cough out much more money rents than their colleagues resident in the school’s halls of residence.
A survey carried out by our correspondent showed that only 7,217-bed spaces are available in the school at present. These can only cater for just 27.8% of the school’s 26,000 undergraduate students. 26,000 is the official number of undergraduate students published by the university on its website.
OAU has eight halls of residences for undergraduates, namely 1,524-bed Awolowo Hall; 1,198-bed Fajuyi Hall; 880-bed Angola Hall; and 560-bed ETF Hall. These four are male hostels with a total of 4,162-bed spaces.
The other four female hostels have a combined capacity for 3,055-bed spaces. A breakdown shows Moremi Hall has 987-bed spaces; Alumni Hall, 402; Mozambique Hall, 1,166; and Akintola Hall, 500.
In line with the university’s new accommodation policy, decongesting the halls and banning unauthorised residency contrary to what was obtainable up to the last session, the number of bed spaces can be used to obtain the number of students residing on campus.
Before the new policy, a room officially for six occupants could have between 9 and 12 or more really, especially in the Awolowo Hall. Some rooms now have four occupants and those with 12 authorised occupants in the previous academic sessions now have six.
The implications of the policy, our findings revealed, are a high increase in the number of students living off campus and as a result a geometric hike of rents by ‘greedy’ landlords at Ile-Ife neighbourhoods. The rents went up, sometimes almost doubled, suddenly without improvement in services available.
But students just getting used to the life outside campus have also lamented insecurity. Then, transport crisis has hit the school in the wake of the new accommodation policy as more students now depend on the limited service of public buses for mobility to and from campus.
This has forced the school to provide alternative buses to convey students from the university main gate to the campus.
A student Peter Oyebamiji said his area, the popular AP in Ile-Ife, was attacked by armed robbers weeks before now.
“They robbed at AP area during the second week of resumption,” said Mr Oyebamiji of the Department of Public Administration.
Two students (names withheld), one in 200 level and the other in 100 level, reported to the security unit of the university that they were victims of attempted rape outside the campus two weeks ago.
“We’ll work in conjunction with the police to investigate the matter,” said Babatunde Oyatokun, the Chief Security officer of the school, in his when contacted over the attempted rape complaints.
Last year, the leaders of the now-suspended Students’ Union visited the Commissioner of Police for Osun State command in Osogbo with a request that students living outside the school be better protected in the face of worsening insecurity.
They asked that police posts should be established in areas such as Aserifa, Omole and other neighbourhoods which are known for high populations of students
But their effort has yielded no fruition. At present, there is no police post at any of those places identified the former SU leaders.
Services such as electricity and water are also poorly available in some places, compared to what is obtainable on campus.
“I have to get to school before I can read most times, especially recently,” Samuel Adekunjo, who resides at Mayfair told our correspondent, lamenting power supply in his area.
The national secretary of the Education Rights Campaign and a final year student of the school, Ibukun Omole, said in an interview that the university management is endangering the lives of most of the students owing to insecurity off campus and the transportation crisis.
“The Federal Government should build more hostels. There are hectares of lands in the schools,” said Mr Omole.
Another member of an ideological group on campus, Afolabi Alawode, stated that “there is an influx of cultists outside the school, which can later result to the initiation of some of our students and that will pose a threat to the university community.”
The vice-chancellor Eyitope Ogunbodede recently said he the school would build more hostels to accommodate a greater percentage of students on campus.
As a policy, OAU gives priority to first year and final year students in awarding licenses to reside on campus.
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