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Access to student loans is too difficult – NANS President



Usman Barambu, President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, has asked the House of Representatives to alter the Student Loan Act so that all Nigerian students who want loans can get them.

This is because they requested that the House include student representation on the board as well as Polytechnics and Colleges of Education on the board, rather than just the National University Commission (NUC), which was previously captured.

Speaking at the legislative summit on students loan and access to higher education held by the ad-hoc committee on Thursday in Abuja, Barambu said the current act’s criteria for loan access were too stringent, adding that the method of payment of two years was too short and should be extended to four to five years.

He also requested that the list of guarantors for loans be reviewed, stating that most students will be unable to meet the guarantor criteria.

He stated, “Student loans are for us, and there is no student representation on the board.” The board only included NUC, leaving out polytechnics and colleges of education; for fairness and equity, they should all be included.

“Also, the method of payment should be reconsidered because most students are unable to find financial footing two years after graduation; it should be revised to four to five years.” The act also has no provision for forgiveness in circumstances of death, particularly for security officials, which should be investigated.

Speaking during the summit, JAMB registrar Professor Is-haq Oloyede, who was represented, stated that the Student Loans constitute a watershed moment in the history of higher education in Nigeria in the twenty-first century.

Oloyede tasked lawmakers with determining the viability of the loan in other locations.

He emphasized the importance of revising the Act to cover costs other than school fees, since students are already paying more for housing, food, and transportation.

JAMB also discussed the creation of a favorable climate for loan repayment, while noting that the Act should be adjusted to account for market volatility, inflation pandemics, and massive force.

Another JAMB proposal was that the loan not be one amount at all times, and that guarantees be incorporated so that it is above inflation.

JAMB, on the other hand, encouraged legislators to create an accountability framework for the loan and advocated for measures to ensure its sustainability.

According to Muhammad Nami, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the FIRS is dedicated to cooperating with the parliament on the student loan scheme.

The tax collection body insisted that funding would be made available as soon as the mandate was given.

However, the group voiced concern over the 1% federal government revenue intended for funding and urged that instead of a federal allocation, the parliament should seek legislation that will allow funds to be pulled from a federation account to which all states can contribute.

Earlier, the Deputy Speaker, Rep Benjamin Kalu, stated on behalf of the Speaker of the House, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, that the summit was aimed at addressing issues arising from the Student Loan Act 2023 – a law that promotes more equitable access to quality higher education for our children.

Kalu went on to say that education is critical to the prosperity of any nation, and that no country can afford to gamble with its young people’s future.

“As you are aware, the legislature plays a critical role in ensuring that all citizens have access to high-quality education in the country.” In this regard, our job is varied. It entails adopting educational laws and policies, assigning resources, and overseeing the implementation of these policies and regulations, as well as the use of authorized monies.

“Through these actions, the legislature significantly contributes to creating an enabling environment for quality education and ensuring that all Nigerians’ right to education is upheld.” In this regard, the Student Loan Act is a game-changing piece of legislation.

“This is critical because education is regarded as a fundamental right in Nigeria.” The legislature, as guardians and protectors of citizens’ rights, is critical in ensuring this right. This influenced the 9th House of Representatives’ introduction and passage of the Student Loan Act.

“The goal was to provide easy access to credit for high-quality higher education.” The act is relevant because it recognizes that one of the major hurdles to obtaining higher education is the high cost of tuition, housing, textbooks, and other educational expenses.

“Many talented and deserving students cannot afford these costs, resulting in significant disparities in educational opportunities.” As a result, only a fortunate few have access to high-quality higher education, while the bulk struggle to make ends meet. We cannot afford to have the bulk of our folks be uneducated.

“The Student Loan Act is a legislative framework intended to address the financial barriers that young Nigerians face in accessing higher-quality education.”The Act strives to ensure that meritorious students are not denied educational opportunities due to financial restrictions by allowing them to access credit facilities.

However, he stated that questions have been raised concerning the terms of the loan as outlined in the Act, necessitating a reassessment.

” It is feared that these conditions will jeopardize the legislature’s good intentions, which are to provide access to as many Nigerians as possible who want quality higher education.” “It is because of this that the summit was convened to gather the perspectives of stakeholders and experts on how to improve the Act,” he added.

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