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ASUU kicks against student loan scheme

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the proposed students loan scheme will create more problems than the ones it is attempting to solve.

ASUU President, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke made the Union’s stance known at the second day of the National summit on tertiary education reform in Abuja.

According to Professor Osodeke, the current high rate of unemployment in the country has made it impossible for students to repay such loans after graduation.

The ASUU president also criticised the proposal of N250,000 per session as tuition fee, wherein students would each apply for a loan of N500,000 to pay and sustain themselves.

This, according to him, means that any student who cannot access the loan is at the risk of forfeiting university education, considering the level of poverty in the land as well as the current minimum wage.

“ASUU would never support the issue of education bank because the poor would not benefit from it,” Professor Osodeke insisted.

“The best solution is adequate funding for Universities”, he said.

Dean of post-graduate studies, Lead city University, Professor Afolakemi Oredein, observed that if implemented, the next problem to arise would be how it can be accessible to those students who really need it as well as the means of repaying it.

She argued that the loan scheme should be private sector driven, in order to make it more efficient.

Director-General, Bureau for Public Sector Reform, Dr Dasuki Arabi, was more upbeat, stressing that student loans have the effect of relieving pressure on national budgets by facilitating greater cost sharing through the raising of tuition and other university fees.

“A typical public university can survive effectively on a tuition fee of N250,000 per session and an all-in annual loan of N500,000 can take a student through each academic year,” he explained.

“At the end of a 4-year programme, the student leaves the university with a debt of N2,000,000 repayable over a 20-year period at a fixed interest rate of 1%.

“With funds availability, staff of universities are paid, students will receive lectures and our children can eat, procure books and personal items and pay for accommodation.”

Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, supported Dr Arabi’s position, arguing that the student loan scheme is default-proof because any applicant of the loan must be indigenous and must also have two guarantors.

“Another feature of the students loan bill is that it requires two guarantors, whereby one could be a civil servant with twelve years standing, a lawyer of ten years standing or a judicial officer,” he explained.

Mr Gbajabiamila, however, clarified that the loan would not be given directly to the applicant, but would be disbursed through the school. The loan, he added, would be processed within 30 days of the application.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Muzha Kucha and Tony Okerafor