By Kofoworola Belo-Osagie
Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo in Ogun State has set out some stringent rules for students resuming for the 2020/2021 academic session from Monday next week, and parents are not happy about them, particularly their financial implications.
In addition to taking COVID-19 tests that cost N25,000 and bringing personal safety kits, students of the university will not be allowed off campus for the six weeks stipulated for the first semester unless they are ready to complete two weeks of isolation and take another COVID-19 test on return to campus.
The rules are detailed in a letter to parents and students dated September 11, 2020 and signed by the Director of Communications and Marketing, Dr. Joshua Suleiman.
Suleiman said: “Students and parents are to note that to ensure a peaceful, safe and secure learning environment, all the students will be required to do the following:
“1. Undergo screening for COVID-19 at the entrance of the university campus for N25,000 to be borne by each students;
“2. Once on campus, students will not be allowed to leave until the period of six weeks to be spent on campus.
“3. A student who insists on leaving campus for any reason during this period, on return to campus would be required to go on two weeks isolation. Also, he or she would have to go for an additional COVID-19 screening at his or her own cost.”
The letter noted that students are also to resume with their personal safety kits – including an infrared thermometer (for those that can afford them), a pack of disposable face masks or three reusable ones, as well as hand sanitizers.
The institution will resume in two batches – first to final year students in 400-Level, 500 and 600Levels) next Monday and to others on October 25, 2020.
Parents complained about the cost of meeting these demands in addition to increased fees despite that the students would spend less time on campus because of the pandemic.
One parent told The Nation that her ward would be paying N702,000 as fees for the six-weeks period from October 25 – though online classes will be ongoing till he resumes. Students are required to show proof of payment on resumption or evidence they have enough funds to cover their fees.
“The 400-Level students will resume on Monday, later they will allow other students to resume for six weeks only from next month. This is after paying the hypertension-giving school fees of N702,000 for six weeks only,” the parent said.
Defending the demands, Suleiman said the university did not ask students to come with their own COVID-19 test results because it wanted to be sure if they were authentic.
“The university wants to be sure that the result of the COVID-19 test the students are bringing is authentic. We do not want to risk the life of any student. We are doubly committed to their good health and safety while studying on campus,” he said.
Suleiman also said there was no fee increment save for the N36,000 introduced to cover ICT costs. He said the university was charging regular fees for the full semester despite students not spending the full duration on campus because it has to make accommodation for decongesting classrooms and hostels to accommodate fewer students because of the pandemic. He added that paying full fees for the semester was akin to paying full rent for a house regardless of how many days one lives in it.
However, another parent dismissed his argument, saying there was no reason the university should charge full fees when the students would not be on campus for the entire period.
“When you rent a house, you can keep your belongings there for one year even if you are not there. That was not the case with Babcock University. The students were not on campus for the whole period.They should have charged like summer (period).We do not pay full fees for summer, just the period they are in school.
“I wonder whether Babcock is doing this on its own or other private universities in Ogun State are also charging for COVID-19 tests. I guess they are charging us full fees because they are afraid the lecturers may down tools if not paid in full,” the parent said.