An activist, Ndubueze Okonwo a legal practitioner with St. Francis Chambers, Agbani Nkanu West Local Government Area in Enugu State has raised alarm over what he tagged exorbitant bill called Development fee placed on student of the Enugu State Science and Technology, (ESUT).
According to the activist in a petition sent to our office, he alleged that first year students of Law are charged an additional N250,000 Development levy aside their statutory school fees, acceptance fee and other fees accrued to new intakes. In the same vein medical students in the respective medical departments ranging from Medicine and Surgery, Pharmacy, Medical Lab Science, Nursing Sciences are forced to pay N300,000, N250,000 and N150,000 respectively. Other departments are charged 50,000 as development fee.
Speaking further on the issue, Mr. Ndubueze Okonkwo wondered why Parents are meant to cough out close to half a million naira for fees and why the school has made it a prerequisite for acquiring registration number for first year students . He further revealed that other stringent conditions placed by the school is that until a student makes the full payment, they will not be allowed to participate in the forthcoming first semester exam coming up in few days time, which has been precisely slated for 17th February.
Ndubueze Okonkwo who is also a graduate of Law from ESUT, asserts that he consider it very important that the general public understand what he called an attempt to squeeze parents into paying through their nose in their quest to see their wards acquire university education, which he further described as wickedness and injustice to Parents as well as an utter disregard to the role of government to provide affordable good education to her people, considering the fact that ESUT is a University owned by the Enugu State Government.
Narrowing it down to the Law faculty, Ndubueze in his petition outlined every fee expected by a first year law student to pay before he or she becomes eligible to write the forth-coming first semester 2019/2020 academic session exams come this February, 2020 as follows;
Acceptance fee: N26, 100; School fees: N124, 000; Development fee: N250, 000 and faculty fee: N3, 700 which amounted to the total of 404,700.
The amount is also applicable to the newly admitted student of Pharmacy and Medical Lab science. Their counterparts in Medicine and Surgery must also pay over N500, 000 and failure to pay, the student loses admission.
Ndubueze called for a review in what he called a draconian and inhumane condition of payment such that every student concerned must pay all the fees and levies to the last kobo at once before he or she is eligible to sit for any exam in the school.
Mr. Ndubueze who further questioned the integrity of the management of the school considering the staggering revenue generated from the school since 2013/2014 academic session when the development levy was birthed which he pegged at N180, 000,000 just for the Law faculty alone. According to him, judging from the 150 approximate number of students admitted into the Law Faculty since 2013/2014 academic session , the school has generated over 180,000,000 from an accumulation of all the development funds paid at the sum of N200,000 per student before it was now increased to N250,000 in the current academic secession.
He further called on all stake holders concerned to prevail on the school to soft pedal on their fund drive on students so as not to drive many promising potentials away because of their inability to raise the fund within the time from given.
One of the students who spoke to us but pleaded anonymity expressed the level of frustration experienced by students following the condition placed by the school.
She decried the way the fees are causing depression for some students. According to her, some of her mates are considering withdrawing because of their inability to make such exorbitant payment. She further revealed that many have not been able to raise such amount even till now and she is also struggling to raise the N250, 000 development fee after her parents went through a lot trying to raise money for her school fees and other fees.
However, efforts are underway by this newspaper to independently verify the facts, and reach out to necessary stakeholders.