The Academic Staff Union of Universities has explained why the newly signed Students Loan Act by President Bola Tinubu is discriminatory between the children of the rich and the poor.
Recall that President Tinubu on Monday, in Abuja, signed the Student Loan Bill into law.
The measure was signed in "fulfilment of one of his campaign promises to liberalise education funding," according to Dele Alake, a member of the Presidential Strategic Team, on Monday evening.
Tinubu's second piece of legislation passed since taking office two weeks ago is the Students Loan Act.
The bill will enable indigent students to access loans at interest-free rates.
It had earlier reported that the piece of legislation, sponsored by the Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, passed the third reading at the House on May 25, 2023.
However, during an interview with PUNCH, National President, ASUU, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke faulted the new law because it was another way of imposing more debt to the poor masses.
He said, “The union will react soon but everyone knows our position on student loans because you will end up encumbering the children of the poor with loans and debt after graduating. This is discriminatory. If what I read online is correct, it said it is only for children whose parents earn at least N500,000 per annum. That means if your father earns more, you won’t benefit.”
Likewise, the National President, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, Mr Anderson Ezeibe, said, “I have not studied the bill and we don’t want to react on the surface. But I have seen one area that will not be practicable.
“It says that students should refund the money two years after NYSC. But what is the provision for someone who is not working after NYSC? And will they all get jobs immediately after NYSC?”
Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Students viewed the student loan bill as a solution to the agelong problems affecting the country’s education system.
In a statement on Monday, the Coordinator, NAN, Zone D, Adejuwon Emmanuel, however, faulted the repayment terms.
“Without saying much, student loan bill is a way forward to the educational system in Nigeria, because it will assist student whose parent cannot afford to pay tuition fee to be able to pay with the loan.
“But as good as this is, there are some questions that need to be answered by the government. The ultimatum for repayment is not feasible. As we all know that there is no work anywhere and most graduates don’t get work immediately, how will they pay back? How will it work when most of our graduates do not get jobs. Is there any plan or opportunity for those that have no work two years after NYSC?”