Why Nigerian universities can’t be autonomous —UniCal VC

Prof. Florence Obi, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Cross Rivers State, says Nigerian universities cannot be financially autonomous so long as they are not allowed to receive tuition fees from students.

She said this when she spoke with journalists to mark her third year in office as the first female VC of the institution.

Obi, who spoke on Thursday in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, said the salaries of university workers were still being paid by the government in addition to capital grants for development.

She said: “This is in addition to support from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund for facilities.

“If the students don’t pay tuition and the universities don’t get appropriate funding from the government, where would the Internally Generated Revenue come from.

“To survive, the universities resorted to charging students some service charges like examination, medical, ICT levies and it is these subheads students pay for that are cumulatively used to run the universities.

“We don’t get money to run the universities from the government.

“What the government gives is overhead and for a second generation university like UniCal, we get N12 million monthly.

“For 2023, we have only gotten it for seven months.

“Even if we get it for 12 months, which I doubt, that amount is only what we use to pay for the energy bill to run the university.”

Obi said that there was no way universities would have been able to remit 40 percent of their IGR to the government because it was impossible.

She added: “If students were charged N2,000 for identity cards and 40 percent is given to the government, the school can’t provide the cards.

“If that policy had sailed through, it would have been the end of public universities in Nigeria, but we are happy that good counsel prevailed and President Bola Tinubu listened.”

The VC added that universities in Nigeria still needed proper funding to run effectively.

The Federal Government had unveiled an autonomy policy for the universities where they were expected to remit 40 percent of their IGR to the government before it was eventually discarded.

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