Monrovia – President George Manneh Weah on Wednesday, October 24, declared tuition free at the undergraduate level for all public universities across the country.
Reported by J.H. Webster Clayeh 00231770745986 [email protected]
The President’s pronouncement comes amid tension between the University of Liberia’s students and the administration over the increment in credit hour fee from L$400 to L$600 per credit hour.
President Weah’s declaration is a relief for many struggling students at the state-run university. But some political pundits have termed the pronouncement as more of a political posturing and not meeting the current economic reality the nation faces.
For the last several years, during every semester, tuition payment and registration have been marred by protests by aggrieved students and this has led to the dropping out of college of some students.
The news of the increment by the administration prompted students of the UL mainly from the Fendall Student Association (FENSA) to stage a protest before the Offices of the President.
The protesting students led by Heylove Mark, told the President through his representatives, that the increment, like in previous semesters, will prevent many students from entering school this semester.
After listening to the students’ concerns, the President scheduled a meeting with the UL family.
When he met them on Wednesday, October 24, he told the gathering in the auditorium on the Capitol Hill campus that the inability for young people to continue their education is troubling to the growth of the country.
According to the President, unless his government invests in human capital by providing quality education, their ‘pro-poor agenda’ will not be fulfilled.
The ‘Pro-poor agenda’ is the development model that this present Liberian administration is using to lift its people out of poverty to prosperity.
“The increasing cost of education in Liberia leading to none enrollments, none attendant and frequent drop out is becoming counterproductive to our development goals,” the Liberian leader said.
According to President Weah, it is time the government takes the board initiative and makes direct social intervention to address the many problems that the young people are facing.
“There is a definite link between the well-educated citizenry and economic growth and in recognition of that my government has decided to invest in our human capital in order to achieve economic growth,” President Weah declared.
He added: “Therefore, I George Manneh Weah and in the name of the Liberian people and their government declare free tuition for all undergraduate students at the University of Liberia and as well as all other public universities in Liberia.”
Financial Game Changer
Following the declaration of free tuition, the Vice President for UL Relations, Att’y Norris Tweah, told FrontPageAfrica that the tuitions from students run the day to day activities of the university.
Tweah added that what is allocated in national budget for the University of Liberia is spent on salaries.
According to him, the tuition money from students, do not most often come on time something he said caused most of the students to drop out of school every semester.
The Vice President for UL Relations added: “Based on the 20,000 projection, at the end of the day only 12,000 students register. We have always lost significant money in term of our operations.
“So, now that the President is paying for the tuition for all of the students. This is going to be a direct income coming strict to the university. He is the game changer in term of financing of the university,” Att’y Tweah said.
He indicated that students who can always take fewer courses other than the regular number of courses per semesters as a result of financial constraints, can now take their full requirements as they would no longer have to worry about the finances to pay.
“So for instant, for 20,000 students, if all of them take 15 credits per hour, I am just assuming, we will be talking approximately US$1.2 million that the government will be giving us for this number of students,” he stated.
Students Reform Available
Registration for this semester is in full swing at the moment and many students have already concluded their payments of tuition.
Now, with the new pronouncement from the President, many students have begun talking about being refunded.
But Att’y Tweah assured FrontPageAfrica that every student, who has concluded their registration process will be reimbursed.
“It is not going be any issue at all; we will refund their monies back,” he assured.
He added: “Because the government has decided to pay, so the portion of the monies, which is the tuition will be given back to those students who have already paid.”
He disclosed that not many students have paid have so far clear with their registration process for this semester; adding: “So it is not a problem.”
He disclosed that the university’s administration has already informed various banks about the refund.
UL Students Praised President Weah
Also, after hearing the pronouncement from the President, many students on the main campus jubilantly celebrated.
Singing, dancing was the order of the day on the Capitol Hill campus.
Some jubilant students told this newspaper that their worries of tuition are over and those of them who might been thinking of quitting as a result of no money for tuition won’t do so again.
John Kollie told FPA: “I am going to study hard this semester because my worry about tuition is over. Thanks to President Weah for such a good will.”
Mary Sackor added: “I am going to carry more 12 credit hours because of the President’s pronouncement today.”