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25.04.2007 General News

University students request $20m for affordable hostel facilities

By Adu Koranteng

Students of the University of Ghana Legon have requested government to earmark US$20 million from the country's foreign reserve to provide affordable hostel facilities in the various university campuses.

In an interview with The Statesman DM Ofori Atta, a former member of the Students Representative Council and a final year student at Legon, stressed that the $20 million could provide four halls of residence each for the five state tertiary universities to ease the accommodation problems affecting students.

He accepted the fact that it was essential for government to allocate US$20 million from the country"s foreign reserve to celebrate the golden jubilee anniversary. Meanwhile, since right to quality education for all was a priority for both the Nkrumah and the Busia Administration, it was also important for government to strongly consider welfare of students and pleaded with government to come to their aid.

He stressed that any reluctance in adhering to the request of the students would precipitate student unrest in campus. He added that the new "in-out-out-out"" policy introduced by the University Council would not hold since the student body is determined to initiate strange surprises that would deter them from implementing it.

In response to housing complaints, the University yesterday issued a statement appealing to students, parents and alumni for support of the new policy.

"It is simply impossible, with present resources, to offer accommodation to every student in the traditional halls of resident," the statement read.

However, the University ensured that the new policy will see hostel accommodation increase to 4,000 beds by the beginning of the next academic year and an additional 10,000 beds in the medium term.

At present, the university has approximately 8,400 traditional residence beds, and while freshmen enrolment is expected to be around 5,000, residence is guaranteed to all new students and some other senior level students on a lottery basis.

"This accommodation policy is what is practised in all universities the world over whenever on-campus accommodation facilities are insufficient," it stated.

The statement also discouraged any acts of vandalism in response to the policy, which it said are attempting to disrupt examinations, saying any such acts "will be severely dealt with."

Lord Hammah, the orchestrator of the recent demonstration against the "in-out-out-out" policy in a further interview did not understand why government should not provide adequate accommodation for students and instead proceed to build a US$40 million state of the out presidential palace.

He said it was important for students to have good residential facilities as it is also good for government to have a modern office facility, and called early governmental intervention to resolve them.