Tension gripped thousands of University of Portharcourt students on Friday as the deadline set by the school administration for the payment of the 2017/2018 academic session school fees elapsed.
The University had upon resumption of academic activities for the session set the deadline with stern warning that those who fail to comply might possibly repeat one academic session.
Some of the students who spoke to TPCN described the school’s policy as anti-student, saying that the school should temper justice with mercy due to economic hardship in the country.
They maintained that the school administration should extend the deadline to allow their parents enough time to provide them with their tuition fees, saying that forcing them to repeat one academic session will destabilize them academically.
A student activist who gave his name as Gabriel told TPCN that it is imperative that the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Portharcourt extends the deadline and give the students more time to comply.
He said: “January is very hard and the country is facing general hardship. The Vice-Chancellor should as a matter of fact, extend the deadline so that those who have not paid will pay”
“The reality is that this deadline, since it was announced, has forced some people into many social vices and it is not good, especially considering the fact that those who made such policies passed through the Universities with free education. This is a University and not an army barracks” he added!
However, when contacted by TPCN, a lecturer in the University who did not want his name revealed said that the University had to rely on such measures because it is almost broke financially.
He maintained that the policy did not start this academic session but said in the past, punishment for late payment was a 50 percent sub-charge.
He added that, given the economic downturn and the way the Nigerian University system is structured, school administration supplements salaries of lecturers with whatever the federal government pays and the students have to pay for the school to run efficiently.
He said that as a parent, he feels for the students, saying that their plights is a sad one but argued that the school is left with no other option.
The University’s public relations officer, Mr William Wordi, could not be reached for comments at the time of filing this report.