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Are Students Paying For The Cost Of The Autonomy? Or It’s Just An Increment?

When the president granted the Wa Campus of UDS an autonomous status, it came with mixed feelings amongst students, as to whether the school can stand on its own or we should just venture into the unknown, well, we ended up into the unknown, with a Vice Chancellor now and some acting Management staff.

The news about a supposed increment of fees was audible amongst students far back in November, but we had no evidence to the news, so we just had to wait for Management to release its fees for the 2021 Academic, after staying home for close to ten months due to the turbulent 2020 with was plagued with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to resumption, students were anxious waiting to get details for the payment of fees, almost every public university had released its fees, including UTAG and UDS Tamale, who chose to maintain the flat fees system rather than increase or reduce it.
The first fees that appeared on our WhatsApp platforms saw an increment of about 5%, with every continuing student paying as close to GHS1, 500.00. Students played the supposed figures down because it had no official backings, the second Fees appeared immediately after Christmas, with continuing students paying GHS1,220.00 or more, this figure brought relieve to the students populace, clearing our doubts of any form of increment we had suspected, this fees was also published on the official website of the university, strangely, the publication was pulled down few hours later and a communique was released to notify students that, the figure published were fake and should be treated as such. On the 12th of January,2021, there was heated and intense rigor amongst groups on various WhatsApp Platforms and Facebook accounts, this was due to the newly released fees with has skyrocketed to interesting figures that could only make one wonder “why”… Yes… WHY?

A continuing student who had paid flat fees which never saw a reduction throughout his/her stay in the University has been billed to pay GHS1, 509.00 with some other faculties and departments paying almost close to GHS2, 000… What did we do to deserve this? When newly admitted students pay lower fees than continuing students.
We have never enjoyed an form of fees reduction, almost every levy, dues and fees students pay here in UBIDS is tagged a “Flat Rate”, with no plans for increment or reduction, so what could have masterminded or influenced the increment?

Now, if we should consider the items and elements we are being billed with, consider an element like SPORTS ADMINISTRATION and SPORTS INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT LEVY, which were billed to students differently, GHS20.00 and GHS50.00 respectively. The most interested part of this elements is that, the University doesn’t have any sort of Sports or recreational facilities in place that will warrant a payment, so why are we being asked to pay for something that doesn’t exist? Especially to Final year students who have less than ten months in the university?

Another Element is the “Emergency Health & Sanitation”, I ask myself countless times, what does this mean? Emergency Health and Sanitation? For all I know, there is no form of emergency system or Sanitation project in the university, the university hospital is not a referral hospital and can’t handle emergency cases that might be life threatening, yes and we are being asked to pay GHS150.00 for that.

The strangest item here is the Practicum Fees that has been billed to the SBL, Practicum for which practical exactly? And SBL Students should pay GHS70.00 for that, SBL students I know aren’t taking through any sort of practical, so what exactly influenced that fee? And this isn’t TTFPP either.

Another Element is the Hostel Development Levy, I don’t really understand why students should be asked to pay such a fee, Majority of the students stay in hostels off-campus, and they pay for every hostel fee charged by their landlords without the influence of the university, why milk us for that?, we used to pay for Hall Affiliation Dues, which charged us GHS10.00, but this supposed Hostel Development Levy is charging students GHS50.00, Yes, Fifty Thousand Old Ghana cedis.

The last of the categories is that of the SRC Fees, JCR/SRC/NUGS Dues, I stay off campus, why should I have to pay a JCR Fee?, “SRC Debt Finance” , How this estranged item found its way into this is rather mind blowing, SRC should be able to pay back its debts from its own coffers, forcing students to pay GHS8.00 for bad debts is more of exploitation and nothing else, and how much are we talking about with respect to the supposed debt?.

SRC-Shuttle Service, another interesting item, to cut the story short, the SRC doesn’t have any shuttle on campus, if there’s even any, some of the students have their own means of transport, and not every student will like to patronize a shuttle, but why bill us a shuttle fee in the first place? wasn’t shuttles supposed to be payment upon delivery?, Yes, we are asked to pay GHS3.00..Yes GHS3.00 payable by over two thousand students.

Last on the strange elements is the “Contribution towards bus”, Contribution towards Bus? That is ambiguous, what exactly are we paying for, for the purchase of a new bus or the old buses are going to be revamped? Even with that, why should students pay GHS25.00 again, after paying JCR/SRC/NUGS Dues? They should find a way to run the SRC and also get its own buses.

What I have seen throughout bill is the same items with two different names, we are not asking for anything difficult, our lives haven’t being the same since Covid hit us, Our parents are finding it difficult to meet our many demands for school, and an increment in this unconducive atmosphere might only leave many wondering why UBIDS will increase its fees, or are we paying for the price of the AUTONOMY? Or maybe too the absence of elected SRC Executives has made us vulnerable to any new development?

The Interim SRC as so far released a communique asking students to pause with payments of the fees, we hope the meeting they will hold with management will produce results that will satisfy the students populace, you told us we were on a Flat fees system, maintain the flat fees or reduce it…But increment?…Well, let’s leave it now to the gods.

By Biitka, Danny Biitka.

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