Medical and dental students of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), have objected to the resolution of the Association of Provosts Colleges of Medicine (APCOM) to introduce professional training fees for medical and dental students in Nigeria.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that APCOM, following a meeting held on September 18, approved N75,000.00 for the 200 – 300 level students and N85,000.00 for 400 – 600 level students per academic session as professional training fees.
It should be recalled that despite several protests staged by medical students in University of Ibadan’s college of health sciences, the approved fees was eventually adopted by the school’s management in April.
Meanwhile, at a meeting of student representatives and OAU College of health sciences administrators which held on October 17, the Provost, T.K Ijadunola, stated that the N85,000 levy is as a result of the financial challenges battled in federal colleges of medicine, including OAU.
“The current training of medical students is bankrolled by alumni, friends and staff of the college and this isn’t exclusive to Ife, it is the same in all federal government owned schools. Fatigue is beginning to set in. It’s high time students and parents began to have a say in the training by putting their money where their mouth is.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported how professional courses like Dentistry, Nursing, Medical Rehabilitation and Law in OAU lost accreditation in the last accreditation exercise by the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) for not meeting up with the benchmark slated by the commission.
In text messages, the school informed admission seekers for the 2018/2019 academic year that they will not be given admission into Law, Botany, Dentistry, Nursing and Medical Rehabilitation as JAMB had also advised due to accreditation issues.
“Sixteen dental chairs were donated by Dr. Alaba Fawole. The college used N6.5 million to clear it; the university gave just 2.5 million. The college had to source the N4 million balance.
“External examiners are owed because the cost run into tens of millions, while the entire university budget for external examiners is N1, 000,000. Staff raised money for microscope,” were the instances cited by Mr Fatusi, at the meeting.
Another lecturer from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, S. B. Aregbesola, said the college will set up a committee to source for funds for indigent students who are already in the system but cannot afford the fees.
“The college will set up a committee to determine their indigence and subsequently source funds to pay for them but everyone will have to pay, whether personally or catered for by the college.”
“In the last administration, dentistry had Zero naira for accreditation from school, some lecturers gave up to 2 million naira of their personal money towards it. Dentistry is the most expensive training in the college today, yet dental students pay just N33,000,” he added.
Students Reject Move
The college’s provost directed all the student leaders of the various schools under the aegis of the college of health sciences, to meet with other students, to decide on the proposed levy.
“We’ve started in a very democratic manner, so that no one will raise an eye brow at whatever decision we arrive at. We are not increasing school fees but we want you to be a stakeholder in your training by part funding through professional training fees,” Mr Fatusi stated.
After series of meetings held by nursing, medical and dental students, our correspondent learnt that the students, in the different meetings, rejected the levy and charged their leaders to go back for better negotiations with the college administrators.
They stated that efforts should be directed towards the government and not students who can’t afford to buy books.
“Payment should not be made, rather, we should go back to the negotiation table and discuss again,” a nursing student, who asked not to be named, told PREMIUM TIMES.
According to Adeoba Oluwafemi from dentistry, most students in attendance said a ‘NO’ to the introduction of the professional fee, stating they won’t see the effect of the money they are being asked to pay.
“A few suggested that the meeting should not be between the provost and the student or student leaders, rather, the meeting should be between the provost/college and the parents/guardians of the students, knowing fully well that it’s the parent who is paying the school fee, not the students.”
In a telephone conversation with PREMIUM TIMES, the president of the OAU Medical Students’ Association, Agbaje Tosin, explained that the medical students were totally against the proposed fee.
“The students will eventually have to pay for the professional training fees but the amount is not known yet, although 85k is the benchmark stated by the lrovost in the meeting.”
Reacting to the strategic hike, the Alliance of Nigerian Students against neo liberal Attacks (ANSA) commended the resolution of the college students against the proposed increments.
“We see the increment as another means to extort the students and poor parents for a problem they have not created. The health sciences college, the students and university administration should direct the problem to the federal government who is solely responsible for the establishment and funding,” Gbenga Oloniniran, OAU’s ANSA secretary, told our correspondent.
“ANSA will not hesitate to join the students in resisting increments in fees at any level, as it remains unjustifiable, as usual.”
When quizzed on the plans to introduce professional training levy on Thursday, the university’s spokesperson, Abiodun Olanrewaju, said he was not aware of the fee and that nothing of such had been communicated to the university management.
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