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The lingering issue between the students of the Lagos State University (LASU) and the State Government may soon be resolved, as the parties have been holding talks on ways of reaching an agreeable fee regime for the school.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), who dropped the hint at the weekend, again assured the students of the institution that the State Executive Council was currently studying their paper to the government on the increase in school fees, promising that where there was need for adjustment or amendment it would be effected accordingly.
It would be recalled that following several agitations by the students on the fees increase, Fashola met with them severally and it was agreed that the students should make their independent study and present to government a position paper on the way forward.
Fielding questions at a live television interactive session with media executives at the Lagos Television, Ikeja, to mark Democracy Day in the state, Fashola said the students have presented their paper, which is now before the Executive Council for consideration and approval.
“I have passed it out to the council. We have told the students that we are not inflexible and where we see the need for adjustment or amendment, we will do it so that they can understand it better,” Fashola said, noting however, that going by the position paper, “the students were not against the increase but the parameters used in calculating the fees.”
Fashola reiterated that the increase in fees regime was one of the many recommendations made by a visitation panel inaugurated at the instance of the students in a petition to the House of Assembly.
“There were many recommendations made by the panel many of which we accepted. It is the school fees that has become so vexatious as it were. What we have done is that we looked across schools, federal, state and private schools and tried to stay somewhere in the middle,” he explained.
The governor said government also decided that the new fee was not going to affect sitting students, but only new intakes, adding that in consideration of qualified but indigent students, government also increased its budget for scholarships and bursaries from N700 million, to about N1.2 to N1.3 billion “in order to ensure that no child was left behind.”
On the reason for the increase, Fashola further explained: “We felt that there was no convergence of universal learning. We had begun to see LASU as a school only for children of the poor. For me, that is a very dangerous thing to do. A university where children of the rich and the poor cannot sit together! The rich are taking their children to private schools. For me that is a time bomb for the future. They may not see it now.
“In the event, the students have come back to me three years after at the instance of their lecturers who are saying that we should reduce the school fees otherwise they would go on strike. But the same lecturers are asking us under Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to increase their salaries”, he said.