CEM REPORT, EDUCATION | The implementation of the Students Loan Scheme has been set for between October and November, the federal government has said.
According to the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, David Adejo, President Bola Tinubu has directed the completion of necessary work on the modalities for the students’ loan implementation.
This implies that the Students Loan Scheme signed into law recently will commence with the opening of the 2023/2024 academic session.
Speaking during a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans, Adejo noted that the President had established a coordinating committee, with the Chief of Staff, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, serving as the chairman.
He added that the committee comprises key entities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Budget Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance and others.
“The assurances I give to you are based on what I see. First is that no academic session in Nigeria is starting before September. Remember because of the strike apart from private and some state universities, the academic calendar has been moved back.
“So, what we are saying now is, it might not be a 100 per cent catchment, but the loan is going to start in the 2023/2024 academic session. Between October and November, we still stand a good chance.
“Once the technical committee is finished and comes to the main committee, then we will revert to the National Assembly with the clean bill. I know we can start this loan 2023/2024 academic session.”
Addressing the issue of increment across several federal government universities based on the provision of loans for students by the government, he dispelled the insinuation as untrue.
He stated that no federal university in the country was allowed to collect tuition fees from students.
He further explained that only the University of Lagos increased fees which were approved by the Ministry.
“What they collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the Universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.
“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the student loans act is the University of Lagos. They came to the Ministry with a proposal to increase their charges because all Governing Councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.
“Immediately that was done, there was a resolution from the House stopping the increase of fees and the president also gave a directive stopping any increase in fees and that is where it is, even though several others have brought their proposal.”
The permanent secretary further explained that the charges collected by the institutions were used by them to pay for some of their services, including electricity bills.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has proposed that the funding of the Students Loan Scheme from Federal Government revenue be increased to three per cent to ensure sufficient funds to cater for all qualified students.
Chairman of the ad-hoc Committee on Students Loan Fund and Access to Higher Education, Terseer Ugbor, stated this while addressing the federal Ministry of Education and the implementation committee.
“It seems to us from this perspective that one per cent of the Federal Government revenue as stated in the act would not be enough to cover students’ loans for a year given the hundreds of thousands of students that we have getting admission every year and those who are currently in school who may wish to also apply for a loan to cover for other years of their schooling.
“I want to suggest that if there is a need to increase the requirement of one per cent to three per cent; then propose that and we are ever willing to look at it. It is quite critical.”
According to Ugbor, who noted that a supplementary budget could be necessary for the scheme to succeed stated that the National Assembly cannot offer a supplementary budget if members are unaware of the cost of Nigeria’s student loan program
According to the Access to Higher Education Act of 2023, also known as the Students Loan Act, funding will come from a variety of sources, including one per cent of all federal government profits from oil and other minerals, one per cent of federal government taxes, levies, and duties collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), education bonds, and educational endowment fund programs.