By Winston W. Parley
The Board of Trustees of the state-run University of Liberia or UL has sanctioned tuition increase from US$2.05 to US$4.00 per credit hour at the undergraduate level, despite resistance from students.
The university complains that it suffers US4$7.7m budget deficit, arguing that its faculty has not grown to attract grants, and the government contributes a US$15m against a US$29 million budget to which undergraduate level students are only contributing US$2.05 per credit hour.
As the UL Administration addressed a press conference Tuesday, 22 March to announce approval of the tuition increment, protesting students chanting militant slogans paraded the school’s administrative building on Capitol Hill where Acting Board Chair Sen.Jewel Howard-Taylor and officials of the University of Liberia or UL administration had assembled.
Sen. Taylor told the news conference that following series of meetings, the Board agreed that “the cost per credit hour for the undergraduate level be increased from US $2.05 to US $4.000.” With the expected enforcement of this much protested decision commencing this second semester 2015/2016, graduate and professional schools’ levels will also see an increase of US$75 from US$55 per credit hour “with the exception of the Medical and Pharmacy Schools.”
After the UL administration cited “challenges and improvement” it made during a Powerpoint presentation, Sen. Taylor announced yesterday that the projected revenues to be generated will be applied to reduction of annual budget deficits, improve UL libraries, maintain ICT infrastructure, including internet connectivity and staff and student development, among others.
She urged students to remain engaged with the UL Administration and partners in ensuring quality higher education for the more than 30,000 students on the university’s four campuses. Earlier, UL President Dr. Emmet Dennis said, the three sources of income at the university include government support, tuition and faculty grants which according to him, has not grown to attract grants.
Citing government’s budget shortfall as one of the factors affecting the university, he complained that it happened at the worst time when the university’s enrollment has massively increased to more than 30,000 population with campuses numbering four.
Dr. Dennis therefore urged students to make their contribution towards improving the university by paying the US$4.00, though he admitted that it will only contribute a little of US$1.3m to the budget in question.
UL Comptroller Mr. Jarsuoh P. Jackson said during a Powerpoint presentation that following analysis done at the university, it was discovered that US$29m was needed to run the institution.
He cited improvement of staff in terms of many acquiring doctorate and master’s degrees, as well as professional fields, massive painting of buildings left unattended to for decades, and internet connectivity currently at its “test phase” that he says will be available to both staff and students commencing the second semester.
Mr. Jackson argued that other universities here in Liberia are paying collecting higher fees per credit hours citing state-run Tubman University in Maryland County as paying US$5; while private university Cuttington collects US$35; Stella Maris US$20/$25; United Methodist University US$15 and African Methodist Episcopal University US$17, among others.
Outside of Liberia, he says universities are paying taking higher fees per credit, opposed to what is being protested against here at the University of Liberia. Ahead of UL announcing its final decision yesterday, campus-based Student Integration Movement or SIM had issued a statement on Monday, opposing the increment.
-Edited by Jonathan Browne