Monrovia – In improving quality tertiary education at the University of Liberia, the administration of the University has made a jump in tuition from US$2.05 to $4 for undergraduate students. Graduate schools tuition has also been increased from US$55 to US$75 with the exception of the medical and pharmacy schools.
Revealing the new increment on the main campus of the university, Dr. Emmett Dennis, President of the University of Liberia, said the increment of the tuition is a result of the continuous budgetary shortfall the university has faced over the years. According to Dr. Dennis, when he took over the helm of the university six years ago, the administration wrote a proposal for needed resources to produce quality graduates which were agreed upon by the board to be implemented in phases.
“We implemented the first phase but because of circumstances we were not able to implement other phases. The University is funded by three means. This is a state University; the state financial support, the second is support from the tuition and third is faculty grants and contracts.
“If your ma and pa is suffering from budgetary shortfall, what happens to the child? It’s worse. So the support that was going up revised and so the support started declining. This decline happens at perhaps the worst time it could at the university because it was during this period of decline that our student population rose from twenty thousand to thirty six thousand”, Dr. Dennis added.
He continued: “In addition to that, during this period of decline we opened two new campuses; the campus of Fendall and the campus of Sinje. For me personally as president, the devastation of this decline and support are devastation of financial support to the university. We got to the place where our financial support from government was US$9.9 million while our payroll was US$1.1 million”.
Also speaking, the acting chair of the University Of Liberia Board Of Trustees, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor said the board met several times during the month of February, precisely on the 19, 24 and 26 to discuss the proposal to increase tuition at the institution. According to the senator, they met with the student leaders and the UL administration while the student leadership had a similar meeting with the visitor of the university, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the same issue.
“At the February 24 board meeting, a majority of the board members endorsed the proposal that tuition be increased from US$2.05 to US $4.00, while the cost per credit hour for the graduate and professional schools be increased from US$55.00 to $75.00 with the exception of the medical and Pharmacy schools, commencing second semester 2015, 2016. Additionally, the board further resolved that adjustment be made in the budget of the University and the board should seek extra funds for the University’s operations”, Senator Taylor said.
SUP criticizes increment
The Student Unification Party (SUP) the largest campus based movement says it is unfortunate that after series of dialogues and consultations with major stakeholders, the President of Liberia in cohort with the administration of the University of Liberia is insisting to strangulate thousands of struggling students by unjustifiably increasing tuition from LD$175.00 per credit to US$4.00 per credit.
“We could not derive a common ground at our last meeting yesterday. Hence, the Chairman of the ever potent Vanguard Student Unification Party, comrade Jerome D. Dangbuah has de-scribed the decision of UL’s administration to indefensibly increase tuition as a declaration of war on the Student Community. SUP says it will hold its second Press Conference in 2016 to articulate its official position on tui-tion increment and other issues.
“By directive of the Central Committee and Politburo, all militants, cadres and students are to be in full attendance. Students from private universities, high schools and the general public are en-couraged to join us in solidarity. Already, 3200 students have signed our petition against tuition increment. You too can do the same by visiting SUP’s headquarters tomorrow or anytime. The Party will hold a mass and peaceful rally/assembly soon. We will keep you posted as events un-fold”, SUP stated.
The student movement stated “In conclusion, we are calling on the government of Liberia to re-frain from provoking struggling and jobless students to anger. Education is a fundamental right and not a privilege”.
Reporting: Rodney D. Sieh, firstname.lastname@example.org