As universities across the world are seeking ways of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on students and parents, Afe Babalola University has increased the cost of tuition for programmes run in the university.
The university is also charging full accommodation fee of N400, 000 despite moving its lectures online for the first semester that is billed to commence on Monday, September 29, 2020.
Parents who spoke to franktalknow.com also alleged that they paid the full accommodation fee of N400, 000 for the last semester despite the fact that their children spent barely five weeks on campus out of the three months duration for a semester.
The parents, who craved anonymity for fear that their children could be victimised by the school authorities said, “We paid N400, 000 for accommodation last semester. The students learned online, yet the school did not refund a dime to us.
“Surprisingly, the school is asking us to pay full accommodation fee of N400, 000 even after we have been informed that there would not be in-person teaching for the whole of the first semester. This does not make sense to us at all.”
Aside the accommodation fee, the university has also increased its tuition. For example, tuition and accommodation for engineering which used to be N1.6m per session before COVID-19 has been increased to N1, 826,300. The university is only registering students that have completely paid the accommodation and other fees. As a result of this, parents and guardians were forced to pay for their children to register for the remote learning.
Both the school registrar, Christy Olubodede, and the vice chancellor, Prof Olarinde are yet to pick calls placed by franktalknow.com. However, in a chat message seeking explanation on why the school was charging for accommodation when lectures would be held online this semester and the reason for increasing tuition by N200,000, the registrar said, “ I have nothing to say to you. Information on the website is purely university decisions and policies. Thank you.”
Recall that two private universities in Nigeria- Caleb University, Imota, Lagos and Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo in Oyo State, have said that they will reimburse the accommodation fees for the second semester to students that had earlier paid for hostel facilities. The vice chancellors of these universities in separate statements obtained by Franktalknow.com in Lagos stated that the institutions had to take the decision since students did not stay on campus due to school closure occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vice Chancellor of Caleb University, Prof. Nosa Owens-Ibie, said that students were asked to stop paying when it became apparent that they would not resume for the second semester physically due to the pandemic.
He had said, “Although the university had anticipated physical resumption during the semester, delay in resumption has led to the institution advising students who paid accommodation fees of the option of carrying such component of the fees forward or getting a refund, adding all students were however allowed to register for courses on the portal during the semester irrespective of fees status while those unable to pay fees due to COVID-19 challenges, have been given access to the university’s e-learning platform.”
Similarly, the former Vice Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University, Prof. Dapo Asaju, had in a letter titled, “From the Vice-Chancellor,” to parents and students, said that the students would only be charged the prorated amount of rent for the few weeks they used the hostels before the university was shut.
Asaju, who is also a bishop of the Anglican Church, had explained that, “In case of the truncated second semester, we shall charge students only the prorated amount of rent for the few weeks they used the sisters before the COVID- 19 lockdown.”
However, many private universities in Nigeria including Covenant University, Crawford, Bowen and Babcock have yet to speak on what happens to the accommodation fees paid by students when the semester ran fully online.
This is in contrast to what universities like the University at Buffalo, a public university in New York, in the United States, are doing. For example, the University at Buffalo has written an official memo to students and parents on resolving the financial impact remote instruction, distance learning, and campus housing changes have on students and families.
In a letter addressed to both students and the parents, and signed by Laura Hubbard
Vice President for Finance and Administration and Christina R. Hernandez, Interim Vice President for Student Life, the University said it had been working closely with SUNY leadership to quickly resolve the financial impact remote instruction, distance learning, and campus housing changes have on students and families.
The letter read, “We are developing approaches to credit certain unused fees to a student’s account. Our approach includes ensuring that decisions we make do not jeopardize any student’s financial aid. Those impacts are currently under study and review.
“As previously communicated, resident students who leave campus housing this semester will receive a prorated credit for their housing effective March 23, 2020 through the end of their remaining housing contract.
“Students who have meal plan contracts or campus cash will receive a prorated credit for the balance remaining on their meal plan/campus cash on their student account as well.
“Students will receive prorated credits for certain other fees where services have been discontinued or curtailed due to the COVID-19 emergency. A calculated credit amount is being determined for each of these fees: Transportation fee, Athletics fee, Recreation, Campus Life Fee, Student Activity Fee – to be determined by the applicable student government.
“After these credits are applied to the student’s account, a refund will be granted as applicable. Students anticipating a refund are encouraged to enroll in direct deposit, https://www.buffalo.edu/studentaccounts/refunds/refund-direct-deposit.html. Absent a direct deposit on file a refund check will be issued and mailed to the student’s permanent address.
“We realize this is a difficult, unexpected and unprecedented situation that we are all navigating together. Our goal is to finalize credits and applicable refunds as soon as possible and certainly before the end of the spring semester.”