When speculations broke out that the Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Olúwarótìmí Akérédolú, intends to reduce the tuition fee of students in Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, parents, students and educational stakeholders alike had joyful smiles on their faces in anticipation of it.
Unfortunately, when it finally came true on August 26 through a circular signed by the institution’s Acting Registrar, Mr Opeoluwa Akinfenwa, the news had the opposite effect of people’s expectations.
It was observed that the conclusion, which favoured returning students in faculties apart from Law, was reached after the management, Governing Council and student leaders met with the Governor. It was also established that the reduction was meant to cushion the economic effect of the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘We Are Neglected’- LSS President
Micheal Adetula, the President of the Law Student Society, AAUA Chapter, disclosed that his administration is trying its best to convince the decision-makers to include the faculty in the fee reduction.
He further bemoaned the neglect which the Faculty has endured since the fee increment, stating that they deserve better treatment, laying emphasis on the fact that they are Law students. He mentioned that other faculties are favoured with new buildings and receive better attention than the Faculty.
“We’re trying to liaise with the state government and give them reasons why they need to reduce our fees too. N30,000 is still something. Law students also participated in the last protest. We are still students of AAUA so we see no reason why the Governor will reduce the fees of the institution and it doesn’t affect us.”
“Aside [from] that, there’s nothing special we’re enjoying as law students and this is what we’re trying to make the government understand. Look at the state of things in our institution right now, it shows that they’re not really concerned about us and everything they’ve been doing. They’ve been cheating the Law Students and LSS generally.”
“Other faculties get new buildings and gadgets and there’s nothing for us because they believe that Law students are paying lower than what is paid in other institutions. Things are not done that way,” he added.
Adetula informed our reporter that his administration is not relenting in their efforts, as they are taking steps to ensure that their target is achieved.
“From our end, we’ve submitted our letter to the Office of the Governor since last week Monday. I also called some other stakeholders that are close to the Governor like Chief Olusola Oke and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Education.”
“We gave them reasons why they should reduce our fees too. The fact remains that Law Students are not different from any other student in the University and we deserve reduction too. We’ll continue to agitate, God willing.”
‘Pro-Chancellor Insisted’ – NANS Ondo Chairman
Akintewe Babatunde Afeez, the Chairman of the NANS JCC Ondo Axis, disclosed that the reduction and neglect in some quarters are due to the insistence of the University’s Pro-Chancellor, Dr Tunji Abayomi, as he believes that the Law Faculty in AAUA should not be paying the same amount as other faculties.
“The Chairman Governing Council insisted, even with our pleas. AAUA SUG President even went as far as prostrating. But he insisted that AAUA is paying the cheapest. He said they’re Law and they should be paying more than the other students. We couldn’t defend further when he said that. Finalists were also said to be paying low.”
He, however, assured the students and stakeholders that all hands are on deck, stating that he believes that his administration is doing all it can to achieve the target.
“The battle is far from over. We’re pressure groups, we’ll keep pressurizing because that’s what we can do now. We’re happy with the stage we are now, so we’ll do more.”
‘Reduction Not Political’ – Pro-Chancellor
The Pro-Chancellor of the University, Dr Tunji Abayomi, disclosed what prompted the reduction during a phone interview. He also exposed the factors that were put into consideration before the reduction was effected, revealing that the move was not made with political intent.
“We considered the impact of COVID-19 on parents, mainly because the business of most parents was literally halted, and in some cases almost extinguished. While it is true that we need funds to run the University and in reality, we’re charging the most minimum rate to run the University effectively. We had to look into this with the government.”
“So, we had a dialogue with the Government and put across the issues on the table. If we’re to reduce the school fees, there are some conditions attached to make it work, which we presented to the government. We were able to reach a good understanding that is beneficial to the students and also convenient for us.”
“To the best of my knowledge, Law Faculty was the only sector excluded. This year alone, we have over a thousand applicants for the faculty and we’re only taking less than 100. That means that we’re taking in less than 10% of the applicants.”
“It’s a question of demand and supply. And since the demand for Law faculty is extensively high, there is no reason why we need to reduce. In the case of Agriculture, you will realise that we reduced more than others because they don’t have enough students in the faculty and our major advancement is regarding the income generation in the area of agriculture.”
“So we need more students in Agriculture Faculty who can participate as workers in the Work-Study programme in the agriculture sector. The innovative plan made us reduce it from #100,000 to #150,000 because we don’t have enough students and we need them massively. Law is a different case; we have a lot of students and we only need a few.”
“The reduction is not backed by political intent. The decision was taken by us. The Governor only directed us to look into the issue at the application of the students. NANS led the student leaders to meet with the Governor and pleaded with him which made the Governor serve the matter to us.”
“We told him the condition on which it can be reduced. It had nothing to do with politics. When you consider the long term effect of COVID-19, it becomes paramount that the government make some moves to reduce it, at least for the parents.”
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