The Federal Ministry of Education has revealed its plans to launch the student loans scheme, set to take effect from the upcoming 2023/2024 academic session.
The announcement was made by David Adejo, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, during a meeting held with the House of Representatives committee on student loans.
Adejo addressed speculations surrounding the Students Loan Act, clarifying that the signing of the act did not trigger a surge in tuition fees across federal universities, contrary to rumors.
He emphasised that President Bola Tinubu had issued directives to ensure the necessary groundwork is laid for the successful implementation of the student loan program, which is slated to commence in September 2023.
To oversee the proper execution of this initiative, President Tinubu established a coordinating committee. This committee is chaired by the Chief of Staff and includes crucial stakeholders such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Budget Office, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Finance.
Furthermore, a technical team has been constituted within the coordinating committee. This team is tasked with the responsibility of crafting a robust framework to launch the program smoothly while also addressing any potential legal hurdles that might impede Nigerians’ access to the loans.
Regarding the recent fee hikes by federal universities, Adejo expressed his disappointment while clarifying the nature of these charges. He explained that federal universities do not charge tuition fees but rather collect charges to offset costs related to accommodation, information and communication technology (ICT), power, and other services. Adejo highlighted that the authority to approve such charges lies with the Governing Councils of the respective universities.
Notably, the University of Lagos was the sole institution to increase charges after the enactment of the student loans act. This decision was made in light of the dissolution of all Governing Councils, prompting the university to propose a fee increase. However, the move was met with swift action, as a resolution from the House and a directive from the president halted the fee hike. Adejo assured that this stance remains steadfast, although several other universities have submitted similar proposals.