INTRODUCTION OF TUITION IN NIGERIAN TERTIARY INSTITUTION: JUSTIFIED?
Delivered at First Leg, Hall Category, Jaw War 2019
The question before us today is not about debating the possible introduction of tuition in Nigerian Tertiary institutions but considering if it is justified once introduced. In other words, is the introduction of tuition acceptable? Is it reasonable?
To answer this, we have to consider the fact that this is Nigeria – A developing country where all systems are still a work-in-progress. For significant change to occur, financial resources are needed from all founts available. And the fact that students are not paying tuition does not mean someone else isn’t. According to Akin Adesola, in his paper titled, “The Nigerian University in a Depressed Economy”, the oil boom of the 70s resulted in the government’s declaration of free tertiary education. But ladies and gentlemen, the days of the oil boom are long gone, and this is the time to move on. We cannot expect oil proceeds to satisfy our every need. And if at all we value tertiary education, it is only justified that we pay for its acquisition.
Contrary to what my opponents may think, tertiary institutions do not just exist for teaching alone. According to David Watson in his book titled, “The Engaged University”, tertiary institutions also exist for innovation design, consultancy services, research and development, international scientific relations, amongst others. Upon considerable achievement of these goals, national development is achieved. According to the International Conference on Globalization in 2005, the United States of America has a significant level of development because of its world-class universities which invest the largest share of the research and development capital in the world. However, in 2018, Nigeria as a whole spent less than $1billion on research and development, while John Hopkins University in USA – A single University! – spent $1.3billion more than Nigeria, according to The Guardian. We are so far behind and the least we can do is to augment the little we spend with the introduction of tuition. And if it will promote national development in this wise, how then is it not Justified?
My opponent might opine that the tuition fees received might be embezzled or worse, swallowed by a snake. No. The introduction of tuition births commercialization – which is the application of business methodology to academic administration in order to enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability.
They might name countries like Germany and Finland which offer free tertiary education, but what they won’t tell you is that their citizens pay up to 45% and 32% in taxes respectively; well enough to cover their “free” education, according to KPMG Global.
On a final note, here is a story. For years, a certain village suffered poor supply of clean water, despite the fact that the government had built a borehole for them. The borehole depreciated with time because of poor maintenance. It was then decided that everyone who fetches water would pay a token. At first, people grumbled but it was eventually a justified solution as the money realized was used to maintain and improve the borehole. This is the same way the introduction of tuition in our tertiary institutions will be justified on the strength of the arguments adduced. But if our opponents still do not see reason with us, it is simply that they have either not come to appreciate the standard of tertiary institutions we should have or their walls of understanding are critically porous.