ome few weeks ago, the school’s authorities publicized the fees of undergraduate continuing students for the next academic year for the various categories. As is usually done, the schedule of fees was released in the categories of regular and parallel students and also international and Ghanaian students with international students’ figures in dollars.
With the increasing economic hardships that parents and guardians go through and the current economic meltdown in the country as a result of the banking sector cleanups and the high unemployment levels, there is much concordance among students on the subject matter of the fees. We would recall that similar incident occurred last academic year when fees schedules were raised much to the displeasure of students which, of course, generated huge public outcry from both students and their guardians. It seems those playbooks are being written again as students are getting agitated on the subject matter of fees.
Inasmuch as authorities must collect funds to keep the university running, I find their accountability and proactivity levels not to be the best. For instance, the release of fees schedule without a component that consists of a breakdown of all that amounted to the lump sum figure does not show a culture of openness, in spite of the schedule being provisional or final. I am talking about an academic institution of higher learning like KNUST, with accountants at college levels to the main administrative offices, and we cannot get a comprehensive breakdown of students’ academic facility user fees from authorities. The argument is sometimes made that students must ask for these breakdowns so that it is made available to them. But I ask – are these schedules not part of the public record? Why keep an important part of it for students to request for before they can be made available?
In another vain, students always complain that they do not see or feel the use to which their fees are being put. On this matter, I am inclined to believe that the powers that be are making good use of our monies but the issue really is, we do not know what amounts go into what projects. As said earlier, we need to see a certain level of proactivity and openness from school authorities. As I know, all public institutions publish their accounts for every financial year and I am led to believe that our noble institution also does same. Unfortunately for students, these financial statements do not enjoy the same alacrity with which the schedule of fees are being disseminated. This has left unanswered questions in the minds of students and we will all agree that authorities are doing a great disservice to students and being disingenuous to themselves as well. I believe it is time authorities begin to view students as the biggest and major stakeholders in this matters.
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And now to the biggest question on everyone’s minds – what are students themselves doing about resolving these issues? The matter of user fees – ranging from academic facility user fees to residential or hostel fees – have been very much of an issue on the student front for a very long time. But can we say we have done well for ourselves in this matters? The jury is still out on the answer but what we do know for certain is that, we have elected and authorized some of our colleagues to do our bidding in this instances. I am talking about the Students’ Representative Council. With a little over a week after the publication of the fees schedule, we have not breathed a wisp of air of the SRC’s position on the matter. Whiles individual students and campus media outlets keep stating their views on the matter, it would have been appropriate and refreshing if our own representatives had added their voice to the course. This would have shown a conclusive and official evidence that students are united on the issue. And this singular and simple act from the SRC would have spelt good fortunes for our bargaining power with the authorities going forward, if not allay the fears of students. But I believe the window of opportunity has not closed yet and the SRC can still put in a statement that will help them leverage the situation.
Quite apart from issuing statements and making pronouncements, I also believe the SRC should by now be asking for a breakdown of the fees schedule as a roadmap to requesting for a possible reduction. We would all agree that the zeal and burning desire to serve students that we see in student leaders when they are campaigning for positions has not been the same when they get elected. With the Sah led-administration set to handover to the Adu-Baah Charles administration on Monday, the 17th of June, the expectations from the incoming administration keep rising considering the fact that existing problems of students have not been completely resolved whiles new ones arise increasingly. It will be my profound advice to the SRC under Master Adu-Baah Charles to move swiftly in addressing the matter of the school fees so that we can finally know the amounts we are paying and make arrangements towards it. To draw the curtains, I would say that as we continue to discuss whether enough was really enough, we are also duty bound to serve the interest of the student and MAKE THE SRC GREAT AGAIN!
Source: Hypercitigh/ KNUST