The National Association of Nigerian Students NANS, has called on the House of Representatives to amend the student loan act to allow all Nigerian Students have access to the scheme.
The association also urged the House to include students representation on the board and capture Polytechnics and Collages of Education on the board instead of only National University Commission (NUC) which was earlier captured.
Speaking at the legislative summit on students’ loan and access to higher education held by the house of Representatives ad-hoc committee in Abuja, the National President of NANS Comrade Usman Barambu, observed that the criteria for access to the loan in the current act was too stringent adding that the method of payment of 2years was too short but should be reviewed to at least 4 to 5years.
He also said the list of guarantors to access loans need to be looked into, adding that most students will not be able to meet the guarantors requirement.
He said “student loan is for us and in the board no student representation on the board. The board only captured NUC sidelining the poly technic and colleges of education they should all be inclusive for fairness and equity.
“Also the method of payment should be looked into as most student are not able to find their ground financially two years after graduation, it should be revised to 4 to 5 years. The act also gives no room for forgiveness in cases of death especially for security officers, that should also be looked into.
The Registrar of the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board JAMB, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, observed that the Students loan scheme represent a turning point in the history of higher education in Nigeria, in the 21st century.
He stressed the need to review the Act to cover cost of other things beyond school fees as students now pay more for accommodation, feeding and transportation.
JAMB also canvassed the development of a conducive environment for the repayment of the loan even as it noted that the Act should be calibrated to factor in market instability, inflation pandemics and force major.
The Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Muhammad Nami, said the FIRS is committed to working with the parliament, saying that as soon as the mandate is giving, the funding will be made available.
The body however expressed concern about the 1% federal government revenue meant for the funding and suggested that instead of federal allocation only, the parliament should seek amendments that will allow the funding to be drawn from a federation account where all states can contribute too.
The Speaker Dr Tajudeen Abbas, stated that the summit which was aimed at addressing the issues emanating from the Student Loan Act 2023 to promote more equitable access to quality higher education for children.
The Speaker, who was represented by the deputy speaker Benjamin Kalu further noted that education is integral to the development of any nation, and no country can afford to toy with the future of its young
“The purpose was to create seamless access to credit facilities for quality higher education. The legislation finds its relevance in the recognition that one of the key barriers to accessing higher education is the high cost
associated with tuition fees, accommodation, textbooks, and
other educational expenses.
“Many talented and deserving students are unable to afford these costs, leading to a significant disparity in educational opportunities. As a result,
we are witnessing a situation where only a privileged few can access quality higher education while the majority struggle to make ends meet contarily, we cannot afford to have majority of our citizens uneducated.
He however observed that concerns have been raised about the conditions for accessing the loan as contained in the Act, hence the need for a review.