21.08.2006 Education

Rip-Off at Legon

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Rip-Off at Legon
LISTEN AUG 21, 2006

The renting of residential accommodation on the campus of the University of Ghana, Legon, has become a booming business.

Investigations reveals that some students are renting out beds at rates ranging from 4 million cedis to 12 million cedis.

Inner room beds are being rented out for 8 million cedis to 12 million cedis, while outer room beds are going for 4 million cedis to 6 million cedis.

Students with non-residential status but who are accommodated by their colleagues on campus, a practice popularly known as “Perching”, are also paying between 1.5 million cedis and 2.5 million cedis.

Even those who sleep on the floor (floor perchers) have a “rent” to settle. The investigations revealed that the prices of the beds were likely to go up from today when students who travelled outside the country for holidays begin arriving on campus with high purchasing power.

The enquiries further indicated that beds at Commonwealth and Legon Halls were in high demand in view of the desire of many students to associate themselves with the fame of the two halls, the only male and premier halls of the university respectively.

A few years ago, the university authorities introduced a new accommodation policy known as “In-Out-Out-In”, by which levels 100 and 400 students were offered residence on campus while levels 200 and 300 students were made non-residential.

However, in view of the critical accommodation situation on campus, the implementation of the policy for the 2006/2007 academic year had to be executed in a ratio of 60 per cent for Level 400 students to 40 per cent for Level 100 students.

A notice posted at the various halls of residence indicated that the distribution of accommodation would be done through balloting and that successful students were required to pay 1,080,000 cedis as residential facility user fee (RFUF).

Information gathered indicates that the balloting for room allocation was on-going. According to some students interviewed, some of their colleagues lived in Accra and so after being successful in the balloting they decided to rent their beds out and attend lectures from home.

They said in the event that two students who were friend happened to be successful in the balloting, they would rent out one bed, share the proceeds and later share a bed.

A Level 100 Students said he and three other colleagues had to contribute and pay 8 million cedis for an inner room bed at the Commonwealth Hall.

He considered that option better than renting a room at a hostel which charged at least 3 million cedis per semester without any opportunity for “perching”.

Asked how four of them could manage to live in an inner room, which was relatively small, he said the issue was not about comfort but affordability.

A Level 400 student, who hails from Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region, said he was not successful in the balloting and, therefore, had no option but to rent an outer room bed for 4 million cedis.

At the Akuafo Hall, a Level 400 who hails from Wa in the Upper West Region, expressed disappointment at not getting residential accommodation.

According to him, he did not have enough money to rent a bed or to pay for “perching” and as such did not know what to do at the moment”.

It was learnt that many students who came from far places but could not get accommodation on campus resorted to sleeping on benches and the floor in some of the halls.

At the Commonwealth Hall, a student pointed to an open place, christened “M-Plaza”, where students laid mattresses and slept at night.

Asked whether there were no mosquitoes there, he responded, “Master, the issue is where to lay your head and not a matter of mosquitoes”.

The students indicated that the only way to address the accommodation problem on campus was to build more hostel facilities and rent them out at affordable prices.

Meanwhile, registration of freshmen and continuing students was going on smoothly at the time the Daily Graphic visited the Legon campus last Friday.

Some of the Senior Tutors of the halls of residence could not say how many students were being offered residential accommodation, explaining that they would only know after the balloting had been completed.

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