The University of Liberia or UL – the nation’s highest public institution of learning opens its doors anytime this month to thousands of students for this academic year.
Accompanying the planned commencement of classes as announced by the UL Administration were threats of “resistance and disruption” by some students led by the University of Liberia Students Union or ULSU. The threats by the group of students were against the backdrop of the UL Administration’s decision to increase fees per credit from L$175.00 to US$5.00, as well as transportation fares from L$30.00 to L$100.00.
Authority ties of the university attributed their decision to the drastic reduction of the school’s budget by the Government of Liberia from US$28m to US$13m – a justification rejected by the students, owing to what they referred to as the continuous ‘poor learning environment’.
But the intensity of the row between the two may have last week attracted the attention and visit of the Visitor to the University, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the campus on Capitol Hill in a bid to reduce the tension. An urgent meeting, hosted by the ‘Visitor’, then ensued at her Foreign Ministry Office between her and the two – the students and administration for a common ground.
While the outcome of the meeting is yet to be revealed, we hope the US$28m-budget of the university will be revisited (even though the budget is already passed into law) for an acceptable readjustment. In the interest of the general student populace. Even though the university may be receiving some funding from external sources as we may all think, the tasks at hands are very enormous at the UL so much so that whatever funding we think may be coming from external sources may not be positively impacting the general learning environment.
It is truly unfair for public academic institutions, including the UL to continuously be financially denigrated to the disadvantage of the UL administration and student community, other public institutions, including the Legislature continue to immensely benefit from budgetary increment without any positive impact.
It is also disgusting and frustrating that officials of government who passed through the walls of the University of Liberia would chose to now ignore the relevance of the university by deliberately failing to support its growth and development – a saddened situation that must attract the attention of all well-meaning family members of the University of Liberia.
Though belated, the Visitor’s intervention on Monday, September 7, 2015 still worth commendation, and that we can only hope that some good will come from “Nazareth” as we anxiously for the outcome of her intervention. In view of the foregoing, we appeal to the conscience and sympathy of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf – the Visitor to the University, to make practical her intervention through any financial means to augment the financial capacity of the university.