Researchers have expressed hope that Nigeria’s introduction of tuition charges and scholar loans will finish the underfunding of its universities.
One of many first steps taken this month by new President Bola Tinubu was to signal a scholar mortgage invoice into legislation, seven years after it was first introduced to the nation’s parliament.
Till now, greater schooling in Africa’s most populous nation has been state-funded and free on the level of entry for college kids.
However this was seen as the reason for the underfunding of the sector, which tried to compensate for its losses by imposing scholar taxes and varied funds.
Ebenezer Obadare, Douglas Dillon senior fellow for African research on the Council on International Relations, mentioned the invoice “acknowledges the unsustainability of this mannequin and takes a step towards shifting the burden of paying for schooling in the direction of the scholar and his mother and father.
Every scholar will be capable of apply for a mortgage if they’ve secured a spot at college and their household revenue is under a threshold equal to round £850 a 12 months.
Mr. Obadare famous that the invoice had been welcomed by the Nationwide Affiliation of Nigerian College students and predicted an inflow of functions from potential college students as soon as authorities infrastructure, together with an schooling financial institution, is in place. place.
Moses Oketch, professor of worldwide schooling coverage and growth at UCL, mentioned the reforms might probably resolve long-standing funding issues within the Nigerian sector.
“Lecturers frequently strike to demand higher salaries. By establishing an schooling financial institution and mortgage program, universities in Nigeria are more likely to acquire,” Professor Oketch mentioned.
“College students additionally profit as a result of if this measure succeeds in stabilizing the college’s funds, everlasting strikes will disappear and college students may be assured of graduating on time. »
Reimbursement – which begins two years after commencement – takes the type of a ten p.c payroll deduction.
The invoice is sweet information for universities, as it would enable them to cost cost-effective tuition charges, whereas interest-free loans will present extra incentive for younger folks to need to attend college, Professor Oketch mentioned.
“The benefit of an interest-free mortgage is that it doesn’t saddle college students with an ever-increasing mortgage when they’re unable to repay as a consequence of private circumstances,” he mentioned.
Nigeria has lengthy suffered from a mind drain, with the nation’s youth now making up the bulk one of many largest contingents of worldwide college students within the UK.
Mr Obadare mentioned he doubted the brand new mortgage invoice might stem the circulate of proficient college students overseas – with funding being “a mere drop within the ocean” so far as the funding of universities.
“It should take a while earlier than the issues of upper schooling in Nigeria are totally resolved. Till then, the mind drain is more likely to proceed.”
Nonetheless, Professor Oketch mentioned, the adjustments have potential in the event that they stabilize funding for Nigerian universities and retain high quality employees.
“If many Nigerians really feel that their nationwide universities have improved considerably as a result of they’re able to cost tuition charges affordably and college students can get the mortgage to pay them, then there’ll probably be much less college students in search of a college schooling overseas.
“It might even have the potential to draw Nigerian lecturers at the moment overseas to return again to Nigeria and educate in universities. »