Sharing the Concerns of the UL Students, But……..
Beginning next academic semester, students of the State-run University of Liberia will pay US$4.00 per credit in its under-graduate program, and US$75.00 for graduate and Professional school students. The decision by the UL Administration and Board exempts students of the medical and pharmacy schools.
The increased tuition fees from US$2.50 and US$55.00 per credit respectively are a result of a decision reached of the Board of Trustees of the University amid current economic constraints leading to budget shortfall.
According to the UL Administration, the increments will entail the acquisition of doctorate and master’s degrees by some staff members, massive painting of buildings, as well as the availability of internet connectivity to both staff and students commencing next semester, even though “there is currently no access to internet connectivity, computer lab, improved infrastructure, modern libraries, science laboratories, research and career development centers, buses, safe drinking water, clinic, bathrooms, parks, advanced classroom, affordable dormitories, cafeteria, as well as student center, among others on the campuses of the university.
In the wake of the increment at the under-graduate level, the university appears to be threatened by what some considers ‘troubling crisis’, especially with the reaction of the student leadership and campus-based political party.
One of the fears being expressed by the students about the increment is that most of the ‘over 80 percent of the students at the UL’ that depend solely on scholarship opportunities and financial aid from philanthropists and donors will drop out of school.
In further opposition to the Board-supported UL Administration’s decision, the students are planning a demonstration before the legislature shortly – something not favored by some students. While is true that Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution gives the right to free speech, the arrogance and rudeness chosen by the student leadership of the university to address the decision by the Board of Trustees only expose their unpreparedness for future national leadership.
With the current economic down-turn in the country and inability of the government to adequately and regularly support the University of Liberia, it is sincerely irresponsible and unfair for the students to begin raining invectives and un-necessarily condemnable utterances against the Board and administration.
Unfortunately, the UL Student leadership and campus-based Student Unification Party continue to ignore the fact that US$4.00 per credit still makes the University of Liberia the cheapest in West Africa; and if the Government of Liberia cannot fully support its own university regularly, latter has no other option to sustain the institution at all levels, but to adopt measures, including the current increments, to keep the school running.
What many well-meaning Liberians had thought was for the students, through the leadership, to constructively engage the UL Authorities to ensure basic social services on the campuses of the school – this should and must be the prime argument, other than the use of invectives and threats.
Moreover, it would be more realistic if the issue(s) at hand would be directed to the Government of Liberia in which many of the products of the university serve or work. Their inability to give back to the University of Liberia, through their influences and inputs into the national budget formulation and passage may be sufficient and a necessary condition for the students to direct their grievances.
Though we share the concerns of the UL Students, we think such concerns must be directed to the Government of Liberia for redress.