On the 23rd of March, the authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University’s College of Health Sciences, invited undergraduate students in its three faculties for a colloquium. These faculties were the Faculty of Clinical Sciences comprising students in the department of Medicine and Surgery. The Faculty of Dentistry comprising students in the department of Dentistry. And the two departments in the Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, the department of Nursing Sciences and the department of Medical Rehabilitation.
While colloquiums are usually sessional events where staff and students interact, raise and tackle issues, nothing could have prepared the students for the great shocker that was to come – “The introduction of the N100,000 Professional Fee” set to start next session.
It was even more riveting when the board declared that this had been unanimously concluded and weren’t open to debates about a reduction in the fees.
It’s pertinent to note that the “professional levy” was also raised in 2018 at a previous colloquium with students who have now mostly graduated. However, the increment was not implemented due to uncertain reasons.
MediVoice brings you the undiluted story from the stand point of three parties – The Staff of the College, The Students, and Everything In-between. Let’s take a look at the first:
“Medical education is a very expensive ordeal everywhere around the world”– College of Health Sciences board at the Colloquium (2023)
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 isProf K.T Ijadunola in 2018 (immediate Past provost of the college)
The stand point of the College board can be summarized in a few points:
- The college can’t cater for its basic needs anymore.
- The college facilities are out of date and need to be upgraded to maintain accreditation of its courses.
- The college staff have relied on their personal funds and contributions of Alumni to keep the college functional for a really long time. But this is no longer sustainable.
During the expressive explanation given at the Colloquium, the board members cited other medical institutions like ABUAD, BOWEN and BABCOCK whose medical students are paying millions to maintain the state of the art facilities needed.
They further cited the College of Medicine of the University of Ibadan who had also successfully introduced a similar professional training fee in 2018 -around the last time this was attempted here in OAU.
These statements generated several responses from students in attendance, including questions like:
- Can the 100K professional fee be paid installmentally?
- Does this new fee cover accommodation?
- Were there any plans for indigent students who won’t be able to afford this?
- What exact projects would the money be used for?
At the Colloquium, the board members responded in the negative to the first two questions. They stated that they might look into a possible option for indigent students. However they declined giving a breakdown of the projects the college will use the fees for.
Furthermore, negotiations on if the fees could go any lower were also directly turned down and instead a possibility of a further increase was stated.
The meeting ended with hints that attempts to resist payment by means of a protest might be met with strict measures like locking up the college and sending students home as it happened at the University of Ibadan’s College of Medicine.
Here are some comments we gathered from students on the increment. These students however pleaded anonymity hence their names have been withheld from this report.
“I really wonder what’s going on in the minds of students who struggle to pay the normal fees”
“They should have just made an announcement instead of staging this as a colloquium”
“If I could afford that much, I would have attended another school to study Medicine not OAU .”
Schools that are paying higher fees are still no better than us even in terms of facilities. There are good reasons why this increment was rejected 5 years ago
The increment was inevitable. N33,000 is quite low for an expensive course like medicine, but the issue is that this is a federal school and most people can’t afford this.
Generally, concerning the 100K professional fee, there have been three main dispersions among the students:
- Those who can afford it and are mainly indifferent.
- Those who might be able to afford it but don’t want it to be implemented
- Those who cannot afford it and hope that it would not be implemented
To tackle the matters arising, the president of the IFUMSA-Cracy administration, Kolade Adegoke James, called for the first Congress of the parliamentary year. And students present were able to air their views and raise suggestions in a bid to seek a way foward.
It was also clear beyond any reasonable doubt that students saw the view of the College authorities but decried the tone of finality used in conveying the message and were ready to resume discussions to arrive at a middle ground.
As expected there were varying views aired ranging from:
- Those who do not want any disruption in the academic calendar which was likely if a protest was to ensue.
- Those who are ready to have a discussion on the terms of reduction, extension, and indigent consideration”
- Those who insist that they can’t afford any increment
To see that all opinions are captured effectively, the leadership of the IFUMSA-Cracy regime called for a “Referendum” among students from all years of study. The results of this referendum would be appropriately tendered to the college authorities.
The Everything In-between:
Let me joggle your memory. The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) embarked on the longest strike ever in the history of Academic strikes – a whooping 8 months. One of their demands was the revamping of the educational system and structures presently in place. True rumours have it that the Federal government can no longer cater for the affairs of federal universities. And there might soon be a general hike in school fees.
This begs the question – “If students of the OAU COHS accept this 100K professional fee, will they also pay when the baseline fee is hiked above 100K? To further buttress this point, one of the points in the manifesto of the president-elect to stop strikes and increase the quality of education is “Autonomy to Federal Universities”. Hence this might mean that this measure might be extended to other departments and universities too.
In addition, the ever-vibrant Student Union of the Obafemi Awolowo University has condemned the introduction of the 100K professional levy. In their very words, “it is “unwholesome, alien and should be instantly reversed” because it serves as a bad omen and can spiral into a chain reaction of increment in fees in other departments.
Can The Result of the Referendum have an Effect or Have College students Crossed the Rubicon?
As IFUMSITES await the results of the Referendum and the decisions from sister associations, one thing is sure – people are watching how this matter will be handled.
However, to end this report there are questions begging to be answered if this 100K professional fee is later accepted:
- How does it directly affect the wellbeing and education of students in preclinical and clinical classes?
- What happens when a student repeats a class? Will the fee be sessional or per class?
- What happens to the subsequent fees when all the problems stated by the authorities have been dealt with?
- How can we be sure objectiveness and empathy will be placed into view in determining the number of students that repeat, if a “sessional” method of payment is chosen?
The MediVoice News and Literary Club sticks with its its journalistic tenets of objectivity . For more news and event reports, click here.
Feel free to air your opinion by commenting below. Till next time, thank you.