The SRC President of University of Cape Coast (UCC), Mr.Francis Kwabena Arthur, has reiterated that students in the various tertiary institutions should under no circumstance be allowed to pay for their own utility bills.
Vice Chancellors of tertiary institutions across the country threatened to close down schools if government fails to pay arrears of utility bills owed them.
This was revealed in a petition signed by the SRC Presidents of the various tertiary institutions.
The universities earlier warned that failure by Government to settle the debts will leave them no
choice but to push the cost to students. The decision was made during a meeting on 25th March, 2015, which drew stakeholders in tertiary education to one auditorium at the University of Professional Studies.
Speaking exclusively to ugfile.com, Mr. Francis Arthur who has recently been awarded as the most influential SRC President in the just ended Ghana Tertiary Awards said he is not surprised this issue has come up again.
“I’m not surprised because when the government made a sharp U-turn after issuing a communique through the sector minister to student leadership and the various stakeholders that its position on utility bills payment has not changed and that no student should pay utility bills, there have been a lot of back and forth – so i’m really not surprised this issue has come up again”.
Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, on Metro TV’s Good Morning show, said that students paying for their own utility is the way to go as 70% of the students are now in their private hostels and pay utilities, with the remaining 30% in the traditional halls enjoying utility free – which he thinks is not fair.
In reaction to this comment, Mr. Arthur said that argument from government officials is very unfortunate.
“It’s very unfortunate when officialdoms talk about this issue and look at only one side of the equation because that is a different scenario. We have to consider the fact that students in the various traditional halls are basically first years with some few continuing students and they are charged differently. Then the question is, if we are to add this to the burden of these students, then we should begin to think that very soon students will ignore admission into universities as education will become increasingly expensive. That said, it is not like students in the private hostels will be exempted from these surcharges. They will be required to pay utilities in the various academic departments”.
He said, VCs are trying hard to resolve the issue, with some of them visiting the utility service providers virtually every month to plead with them not to disconnect their supplies to us but definitely they might get fed up. He stressed that with the way universities are governed, when there are conditions preventing the smooth running of the school, the academic board can sit and take a decision of to close it down but he think we have not gotten there yet.
Mr. Francis Kwabena Arthur then urged the government to come out boldly and state its position clear on this matter. He passionately pleaded, his Excellency should immediately digress the idea as student leadership have laced their boots to kick out the payment of utilities by students in the tertiary institutions. Moreover, sticking to that idea will only preserve education in this country for the affluent ones which will be detrimental to the indigent ones.