By Izunna Okafor, Awka
The apex association of lecturers in Nigerian universities, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has told President Bola Tinubu to change the newly-assented Students Loans Act to grant for indigent students.
ASUU President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, made the call on Monday in Abuja, where he also stated that some beneficiaries of such were committing suicide globally, usually because of their inability to repay within the stipulated time.
According to him, there are more than one million students in Nigerian public universities and the loan cannot adequately cater for students’ tuition. He further added that more than 90 per cent of students won’t meet what he called “stringent requirements” to access and repay the loan.
While describing the Students Loan as neither practicable nor sustainable, he also opined that a special scheme for funding indigent students’ education would be more beneficial.
“This would have been better if we are giving it to those set of students who are very poor, it should be called a grant, not a loan. It should be called a grant since it is coming from the Federation Account and not that (after) these people have accessed it and when they are graduating, they have heavy loads behind them and within two years, if they don’t pay, they go to jail. That’s why we’re talking about collective bargaining; you have views from all the sides.
“The idea of student loan came in 1972, and it was in a bank established. People who took loans never paid, you can go and investigate. In 1994, 1993, the military enacted Decree 50 also set up a Students’ Loan Board.
“The National Assembly domesticated it in 2004, and within a year, it went off. The money disappeared. We want to see how this one will be different. We, as a Union also did research of countries all over the world, of people who have benefited from this loan, they were committing suicide.
“Recently, (President Joe) Biden is trying to pay back the bank loans of some who borrowed in the US. It is better to look for alternative means of funding education than encumbering students whose parents earn N30,000 a month with a loan,” he said.