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31.08.2004 General News

Meeting on new University fees ends in deadlock

By GNA

Accra, August 31, GNA- A stakeholder meeting to end the impasse over the payment of the new academic user and residential fees by students, in the public universities ended in a deadlock after several hours of brain racking.

The seven-hour meeting between, Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Professor Emmanuel Ofori Sarpong, representative of the Council of Vice Chancellors and the student leadership, failed to arrive at a consensus since all the interested parties had stuck to their entrenched positions.

The student leadership felt the fees were outrageous and demanded that the university authorities made some new concessions so that they could agree on something "realistic".

Mr. Ken Abotsi, NUGS President, noted that the majority of students could not pay the 100 per cent increase in the residential fee and the 20 per cent increase in academic user fees and that it was important for the authorities to take a second look at it.

"We have proposed 30-40 per cent reduction in the residential fees, which is 100 per cent at the moment and 20 per cent reduction in the academic user fees which is 30 per cent as well other charges" He said it was pathetic to note that university authorities claimed that since some students could afford air ticket abroad during holidays, they were capable of paying the fees.

He also expressed surprise at variations in the fees even though the council of vice chancellors of the various universities had set them.

At the University of Ghana, Legon, continuing student's pay 640,000 for residential fee, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), students pay 350,000, University of Cape Coast, students pay 600,000, University of Development Studies, 300,000 and University College of Winneaba, 600,000.

The students' representative from the various universities said the authorities refused to involve them in any discussions that resulted in the fixing of the fees, which in their estimation had not benefited both sides.

Prof Sarpong noted that the universities were not misappropriating students' funds as was being peddled around and that the fees charged were meant for maintenance as well as expanding and building new residential facilities.

Mr. Baah-Wiredu urged the NUGS to strengthen it's student aid secretariat to enable it to source fund for needy students to forestall such occurrences.

Meanwhile, Mr. Baah-Wiredu will meet with the vice chancellors of the public universities who were holding a separate meeting to further dilate on the fees.

He was optimistic that his meeting with the vice chancellors would yield fruitful result be bring peace on the university campuses.

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