Concerned Law Students Of Wisconsin Lament Over Expensive Tuition Fees
REGISTRAR / MANAGEMENT
WISCONSIN INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE,
THE DEAN OF STUDENTS
WISCONSIN INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE,
PETITION FOR THE REVIEW OF THE FEES STRUCTURE FOR THE SEMESTER
- We write to warmly adulate the efforts being made to administer the University, make critical observations and to prefer suggestions. We are students of this University at the Faculty of Law. We are really concerned about a number of issues in the University and we want to bring them to your attention and help address them as indicated in the first line of this paragraph. We are convinced that this is one way by which we can contribute our quota to the holistic development and betterment of the University community especially to make campus-life more convenient and friendly to all students and prospective students.
- Until March 2020, students’ campus-life and University administration were going on smoothly. The novel COVID-19 pandemic has come to disrupt campus life and totally distorted academic life in respect of the conventional face-to-face tuition we subscribed to at the time we enrolled as students of this University. We observe and commend the University for making administrative arrangements to keep the University running albeit not in every area of student life especially fees.
- On the 2nd of September, 2020, the Registrar of the University sent electronic mail to us with the caption “RE-OPENING OF 2020/2021 ACADEMIC YEAR – SEMESTER ONE” and outlined a number of decisions Management has taken and the way forward. Please permit us to quote in extenso paragraph one of the notice served on us via email: “Taking into account challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on tertiary institutions in the country, Management of the University in consultation with major stakeholders have instituted the following measures in connection with the re-opening of the 1st semester of the 2020/2021 academic year in order to minimize disruptions in teaching and learning: 1. REGISTRATION: a. Online registration will begin on September 7, 2020 and students are required to pay a minimum of 50% of their total tuition fees to enable them register; b. The online registration process will be sent in a separate communiqué; c. The period for payment of penalty for late registration has been extended from the usual 2 weeks to 3 weeks after the re-opening of the semester; d. New Registration Deadline is Saturday, September 26, 2020; e. Late Registration Penalty takes effect from Monday, September 28, 2020 [emphasis ours].
- Deducing from the notice, Management admits that the novel COVID-19 Pandemic has brought about unexpected challenges to tertiary institutions including ours. One of these challenges is financial in nature. The three components of the University as an educational citadel are Staff (Management, Teaching and Non-Teaching staff), Students (Regular, Evening and Weekends), and Structures (Physical Structures such as libraries and lecture halls etc., Rules, Regulations and Policies). When the Registrar stated that Management had consulted with major stakeholders of the University, it became somewhat suggestive that the ‘Leadership’ of the Students Representative Council (whose tenure of office expired last semester) or an ad hoc Student-based Committee might have been consulted on students’ part as major stakeholders of the University but we cannot trace any Management decision that seems to stipulate that students have made any input into the current Fee Structure; it also became imperative for us to search for measures that have been put in place to serve the interest of students and also to mitigate the challenges especially financial challenges that students are facing in this COVID-19 era.
- On September 7, 2020, the University sent another email spelling out the Fee Payment options and procedures. Unfortunately, this mail did not specify how much we need to pay as fees for this semester and did not show us the courtesy of giving us the link to the fees as published on the University’s website but rather gave us the link to timetables for the semester. It is sad to note that for LLB Courses, there are no scheduled timetables apart from the grid lines drawn on the site.
- In our quest to find out measures laid out to mitigate COVID-19 Pandemic challenges that students are facing, we checked the University’s website for our fees structure and observed to our utter dismay that there is no reduction in our Fees and some components of the fees have not been itemized for clarity. For the avoidance of doubt, permit us to quote in extenso the Fees for Continuing Law Students as we saw on the University’s website as at yesterday, 13th September, 2020:
- Tuition Fee - GH₵4,205.00
- Registration - GH₵45.00
- IT User Fee - GH₵75.00
- SRC Dues - GH₵35.00
- Medical Care - GH₵50.00
TOTAL - GH₵ 4,410.00
NB: Minimum Payment for registration is 50% i.e., GH₵ 2,205.00 and the remaining 50% must be paid before a student will be allowed to participate in the End of Semester Examinations [emphasis ours].
7. When we analysed the September 2 and 7 Notices from the Registrar and juxtapose them against the Fees on the University’s website and the Government of Ghana’s relief packages for institutions, we have made a number of observations including but not limited to:
- The only mitigant for the Student in this COVI-19 era is one week extension of late registration from 2 weeks to 3 weeks after the regular registration period has ended.
- No reduction in any component of the fees since the amount we paid last semester is not less than what has been published on the University’s website.
- Management is going for full revenue realization albeit full services are not being rendered to us because of the COVID-19.
- The portion of the Tuition Fee that is spent on Academic Facilities such as libraries, lecture halls, examinations etc. has not been specified.
- Fees for Utilities such as water and electricity have not been specified
- There is no indication that Management has factored the relief Government has given on water and electricity into the fees for this semester.
- The mode of teaching will be online lectures pending further directives from the Government.
- The University made a lot of savings last semester in respect of examinations because students did not use logistics such as hardcopy question papers and answer booklets.
8. In as much as we would partially agree with Management that they have contract with their employees and for that matter they have to find the resources and honour staff remunerations in this pandemic time, it is equally important to consider the students whose sources of income have also been badly affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic so that Management will take decisions that will mitigate the challenges students are facing significantly. Even though some may call the outbreak of the pandemic an ‘Act of God’, we know that in respect of contractual obligations, Management cannot rely on that to make structural adjustment to the administrative setup of the University including remuneration but we know that Force Majeure clauses inscribed into the terms of contract with your employees may permit you to make some adjustments including downsizing of non-teaching staff and cutting some expenditures.
9. During the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, state health departments closed schools for a time, and later, there was a wave of contract disputes where teachers and school bus drivers sued the school districts for their wages. The school districts argued that they were excused from paying due to impossibility and their arguments were upheld by the courts. In the case of Gregg Sch. Tp. v. Hinshaw, 76 Ind. App. 503, 506 (1921), after the contract was entered into, and when the exigency of the pandemic arose, the health board, in the exercise of the police power delegated to it, closed the school, and the contract, for the time that the order was in force, was impossible of performance, and hence unenforceable, and there could be no recovery for such time. Again, in the case of Sandry v. Brooklyn Sch. Dist., 47 N.D. 444, 449 (1921), it was ruled that either party is excused if, without his fault, performance for a period becomes impossible. Such impossibility may arise upon the sickness or death of either party, or the inability of one party to give or receive performance, occasioned by the prevalence of an epidemic. The face-to-face experience with our lecturers cannot be replaced sufficiently. Under the circumstances, we cannot ask Management to adjust all expenses across board, but with the greatest of respect, we humbly request that:
- Managements should breakdown the Tuition Fee component of our fees so that we will know how much goes into the payment of utilities and academic facilities and the Real Teaching (tuition).
- Fees on utilities for last semester should be reduced by 30% with retrospective effect and the difference should be credited to each student’s bill for this semester.
- Fees on utilities for this semester should be reduced by 50% considering the Government’s waiver.
- Real Tuition Fees should be reduced by 30% considering the fact that conventional face-to-face teaching has been suspended and in lieu of that online teaching with its attendant challenges introduced
- The window for the Registration should be kept opened throughout the semester without any financial penalty so that students will have some breathing space to mobilise funds and honour their financial obligations to the University by the end of the semester.
- Management should downsize non-teaching staff and save cost.
10. We are confident that if Management considers our humble requests favourably and gives further and better particulars in respect of the Fee Structure, it will reignite high level of confidence and trust that students reposed in the University. It will also show that Management indeed sees students as major stakeholders in the administration of the University and ever ready to engage them for the holistic development of the University. Finally, we wish to draw from the recent popular mantra that we are not in normal times so we are not being given normal lectures and for that matter we aver that it is reasonable not to pay normal fees. The way this petition is handled will determine our next line of action including any legal options available to us. We are standing by to engage with Management further to resolve this matter symbiotically.
Thank you so much
Your Learning Students,
1. David Sowah Addo 0244477391 2. Jonathan Yaw Ayensu 0544495994
3. Gerald Antwi 0555643068 4. Edem Nyadudzi 0244562564
5. Nicholas Agyekum 0244820018 6. Ernest
1. President, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana
2. Dean, Faculty of Law, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana
3. SRC, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana
4. Law Students Union, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana
5. Students Noticeboards, Wisconsin International University College, Ghana