Some students of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, were yesterday sent out of their classes for failure to pay tuition fees for the 2015/2016 academic year, a prerequisite to completing their registration.
The students who were sent out of their classes spontaneously organised a peaceful protest against the college authorities and asked that they be given an extended time to pay fees and register for the new academic year.
According to a third year student of the Department of Political Science, Santigie A. Bangura, they were about to begin lectures in the morning when a college administrator asked them out of the class.
He said the unnamed administrator told them that they would only be allowed back in class after paying their fees.
“I am calling on the college authorities to give us more time because we are just coming from the Ebola epidemic and most of us were affected. Some of our parents lost their jobs and I am therefore pleading with the administration to be patient with us and give us more time to pay,” he said, apparently echoing the sentiments of hundreds of students who find themselves in the same predicament.
Another affected student from the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, Jande Veronica Dembay, told Concord Times a similar narrative as her male colleague.
The college administration increased tuition fees in 2014 by one hundred percent. Students protested against the massive increase and demanded a reduction. The government response was to opt to pay fees subsidies for individual students instead of paying subvention to the college as they used to do.
However, a student could only benefit from the fee subsidy upon payment of fees, which is still a significant amount for most parents whose children are attending the college.
Meanwhile, Deputy Vice Chancellor of FBC, Professor Sahr Gbamaja, had expressed frustration over the non-payment of fees by majority of students for 2014/2015 academic year.
Speaking on CTN Radio late last year, he said only about 15% of the entire students population had paid their fees and registered, adding that the administration would not mark examinations scripts of students who had not paid their fees or registered.
Concord Times, however, learnt that majority of the students have not paid their fees and are yet to set eyes on their grades because their scripts were not marked.
As the students protested yesterday, efforts to speak to the university’s Public Relations Officer, Munda Rogers, were futile. He told this reporter that he was in a meeting with the college administration and was not in position to comment on the issue.