The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has called on the President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government to provide grants to Nigerian students rather than implementing a student loan initiative.
The academic union argues that student loan beneficiaries in other countries often face immense debt burdens, which can lead to severe consequences such as suicide.
ASUU emphasizes the need to discourage the implementation of student loans in Nigeria to prevent such dire situations.
Under this initiative, students would be required to repay the loans several years after completing their education, provided they secure gainful employment.
According to News About Nigeria, the loan repayment period would commence two years after the beneficiary completes the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program and has found employment.
While the government aims to assist students in funding their education, ASUU argues that offering grants instead of loans would be a more suitable approach to avoid potential financial hardships and psychological distress among graduates.
In an interview with a popular media channel, Channels Television, ASUU National President, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, said: “This would have been better if we are giving it to those set of students who are very poor, it should be called a grant, not a loan.
“It should be called a grant since it is coming from the Federation Account and not that (after) these people have accessed it and when they are graduating, they have heavy loads behind them, and within two years, if they don’t pay, they go to jail.”
Osodeke said the policy is not sustainable.
The ASUU president said: “The idea of student loans came in 1972 and it was in a bank established. People who took loans never paid.
“In 1994, 1993, the military enacted Decree 50 also set up a Students’ Loan Board. The National Assembly domesticated it in 2004 and within a year, it went off. The money disappeared. We want to see how this one will be different.”
ASUU President also said the conditions for the loan are not practicable. He said more than 90% of students won’t meet the requirements to access the loan.
“We, as a union also did research of countries all over the world, of people who have benefited from this loan, they were committing suicide.
“Recently, (President Joe) Biden is trying to pay back the bank loans of some who borrowed in the US,” he said.
While calling on the President to take another look at the new law, Osodeke also asked him to probe the activities of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
He alleged that the fund had been colonized with “interests all over the place”, adding that whoever had stolen money should be identified and punished.