A new act establishes a loan system to assist individuals who cannot afford higher education

Nigerians who aspire to pursue higher education but lack the means will now have access to interest-free loans once they secure admission.

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu signed the Students Loan Bill into law on June 12th, which has sparked divergent views among stakeholders. Some have expressed concerns regarding the loan’s repayment plan.

With the exception of students on scholarships, tuition fees are mandatory for all. Government-run universities in Nigeria typically charge an average tuition fee of around NGN100,000 (approximately US$215) per year, while privately-run institutions charge approximately NGN500,000 (US$1,070).

The new legislation ensures that underprivileged students are granted fair and unbiased opportunities to pursue higher education. Regardless of gender, religion, tribe, social status, or disability, they can now access educational institutions without facing any form of discrimination.

To facilitate this, the law mandates the establishment of a Nigerian Education Bank responsible for disbursing loans exclusively to deserving students, specifically for the purpose of covering tuition fees.

According to Dele Alake, a member of the presidential strategic team, the president’s signing of the bill represents the fulfillment of his campaign commitment to “liberalize education funding.”

Dele Alake, during a press conference held in Abuja, declared the fulfillment of Tinubu’s promise as the bill was officially signed into law on the 12th of June. This milestone ensures that underprivileged students can now obtain federal government loans to support their educational pursuits and professional ambitions.

Alake emphasized that the legislation aligns with international standards to facilitate educational access. He explained that specific qualification criteria, including demonstrating financial need, are in place for individuals seeking to benefit from the loan. Additionally, committees comprising representatives from various organizations will be established to ensure the effective and efficient distribution of this opportunity.

The students’ loan initiative has garnered both accolades and criticism from various quarters.

Bashir Mohammed Jumare, a public finance professor at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, commended the loan as a “commendable advancement.” He emphasized the need for collaboration among stakeholders such as schools, the proposed education bank, and other pertinent government agencies to ensure the effective implementation of the initiative.

According to Professor Godwin Okpara, a member of the Institute of Policy Management Development, the news of the approval of the students’ loan bill is viewed positively.

“It’s highly beneficial. However, my concern lies in the execution of the program. I sincerely hope for a well-planned and executed implementation. It is crucial to clearly define the procedures for granting the loan to ensure that it truly benefits the intended students,” he advised cautiously.

In a statement, Emmanuel Adejuwon, a zonal coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), expressed that the students’ loan signifies “a progressive step for Nigeria’s educational system” as it will provide assistance to students whose parents are unable to afford tuition fees.

However, certain stakeholders, particularly the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), have vehemently criticized the loan, asserting that it represents the government’s attempt to evade its responsibility of sufficiently funding tertiary education.

According to Punch, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, the President of ASUU, expressed concern that the loan could burden financially challenged students with debts upon their graduation.



Source : universityworldnews.com

By Ryan

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