Dear sir: we would like to begin by quoting an old African proverb which says: 'when rainfall is accompanied by thunder, the ground does not only get wet, devastating traces are left behind that could affect generations yet unborn.'
Sir, you are an African son and it is not conventionally acceptable to explain such sayings to anyone with African roots. An African child is no stranger to the meanings conveyed by the crowing cock in the early hours of the morning, remember?
Sir, at the time of enrolling into the National Open University of Nigeria, we were imbued with hopes of attaining greatness and the ecstatic feeling of actualizing our aspirations was buzzing inside of us with unusual enthusiasm. Things have indeed changed! Today, that feeling has turned awry as life at the university is proving to be more and more unfriendly, like the infamous relationship between human skin and thorns. We are yet to recover from the brutal shock that hit us in the wake of the university's ill-informed decision to hike our fees without any compunction.
This decision is not only callous; it is also a testimony to the fact that the university prioritizes financial gains to academic excellence. And this, quite obviously, leaves the future of the university and its students in a very precarious state. At a time when the university is still embroiled in a big struggle to meet the pressing needs of its students, one would have thought that developing infrastructure for a sound learning environment is the university's major goal. But the latest move by the university has proven that such plans are out of thought. So, Sir, rather than resorting to fee hiking, we are of the opinion that tackling those shortcomings that are besetting the institution would have been more productive.
Below, we present a few of such problems that the university has consciously ignored: 1. For the past four years or thereabouts, the university has failed to provide facilitators/tutors for students. This unfortunate situation has led the hapless students to pull their resources together in order to hire lecturers from other universities. And so it goes without saying that students spend huge amount of money every semester in solving a crucial need that the university should have been responsible for. Sir, we should like to know, was this how you studied? 2. The university has ensured that payment for course materials be compulsory for all students, and the cost of each material is between N2,000 and N2,500, depending on the credit units of the course. The mathematical outcome of this would reveal that a student running ten courses, for instance, coughs out an outrageous N20,000 to N25,000 per semester for course materials alone!
But this is not where our outcry lies.
Why is it that students do not get these course materials after payment? Why is it that the university advises students to get these materials 'elsewhere' after payment to the university must have been made? Why is it that the university does not refund our money since it is unable to provide the course materials for which it gets paid every semester? On this, it is imperative to carry out some calculation in order to illustrate how much a student running ten courses would pay per semester under the new fee structure: Course registration: N21, 500 (this is only a conservative estimate as this depends on the credit units) Examination registration: N10, 000 Compulsory fee: N23, 000 (previously N15, 500) As demonstrated above, this would amount to: N54,500 for a single semester! And let it be known that the above calculation does not include the additional amount of money students spend in downloading and binding course materials that the university deprives us after payment, nor does it include the exorbitant amount that we spend in hiring tutors every semester. If we were to include these to the above calculation, there would be no word in the dictionary to adequately describe the institutionalized injustice that students suffer at the National Open University of Nigeria. Sir, please be kind enough to tell us the total amount of fees you paid per session during your days as an undergraduate.
This unjustifiable situation has left us with one disturbing question: 'is the National Open University of Nigeria still a Federal institution?' 3. There is the big question about the future of Law undergraduates which the university has not been able to resolve. The Council of Legal Education has on several occasions stated in plain language that our Law graduates are ineligible for admission into the nation's Law School, yet the university has done absolutely nothing about this and it keeps on admitting more students into the Faculty of Law. Our honest question is: should this resistance into Law School be sustained, will the university refund every kobo it has received from all Law students and also pay some compensation for their wasted time? Or is this an indication that the university is ignorant of the importance of attending Law School? 4. In early 2013, the university imposed the sum of N6, 500 on all students which was automatically deducted from our portals.
The sum, which was tagged 'JAMB regularization fee', was aimed at mobilizing NOUN graduates for the one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. But we have been reliably informed that NOUN graduates are ineligible to participate in this programme. Why is the university silent on this? Will the N6, 500 be refunded now that the purpose for which it was paid could not be achieved? 5. Since inception, the university imposes an e-library and e-learning fees on students every semester, yet we are never granted access to the e-library nor do we receive any online lecture(s).
What then is the rationale for this payment, Sir? And as if that is not enough, are you aware that your recently introduced i-learn is not accessible as you make it seem? 6. Sir, how about the questionable grading system and the consistent 'missing of results'? And why is it that we are requested to cough out certain amount of money before our CGPA or semester results are revealed to us? We have reliably gathered that it is for this reason that the university has insisted that our results and CGPA should not be made available in our portals. How can you possibly defend this when our cumulative results and CGPA are never revealed? We should like to know, Sir, in your undergraduate days, did you also part with some money in order to see your result(s) and CGPA? We have only touched few of the problems facing our institution, and so we are inclined to believe that the authorities of the university should concern themselves in bringing a permanent solution to these problems rather than hiking fees, for we have learnt from our great farming parents that the biggest tragedy of any farmer is to ignore planting his yam seedlings and still hope to experience a great harvest during the New Yam Festival. Isn't this a curious thing to do, dear Sir?
So, Sir, as students of the National Open University of Nigeria, through this open letter, we wish to publicly declare that we vehemently decry the recent hike in our fees and we exhort you and other decision-makers of the university to reverse to the previous fee structure. We thank you for your attention. Yours faithfully,
Signed by all class governors for:
Voice of NOUN Students
National Open University of Nigeria
27th June, 2014
Office of the Vice-Chancellor National Open University of Nigeria
14/16 Ahmadu Bello Way Victoria Island Lagos