The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, has appealed to the House of Representatives to amend the student loan act to allow all Nigerian Students who desire loans to have access to them.
The National President, Usman Barambu who made the appeal at the legislative summit on students loan and access to higher education held by the ad-hoc committee in Abuja, said the criteria for access to loans in the current act was too stringent and the method of repayment of 2years was too short but should be reviewed to at least 4 to 5years.
Barambu also called for the list of guarantors to access loans to be looked into, adding that most students will not be able to meet the guarantors requirement.
This is as they asked the House to include student representation on the board and capture Polytechnics and Collages of Education on the board instead of only the National University Commission (NUC) which was earlier captured.
Also speaking at the summit, the Registrar of the Joint Admissions And Matriculation Board, JAMB, Professor Is-haq Oloyede noted that the Students loans represent a turning point in the history of higher education in Nigeria, in the 21st century.
In his recommendations, the JAMB Registrar 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.
The JAMB Registrar also canvassed for development of a conducive environment for the repayment of the loan to meet current realities considering the market instability, inflation, pandemics and force major.
Another recommendation by JAMB was that the loan should not be the same amount at all times adding that guarantees should be inserted so that it will be above inflation.
JAMB also urged the parliament to develop an accountability frame work for the loan and called for measures that would guarantee its sustanance.
On its part, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Muhammad Nami said that the FIRS is committed to working with the parliament on the students loans project.
The revenue collection body maintained that as soon as the mandate is given, the funds 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 the federation account where all states can contribute too.
Earlier, the Speaker of the House, Dr. Tajudeen Abbas, represented by his deputy, Benjamin Kalu said that the summit was aimed at addressing issues emanating from the Student Loan Act 2023 – a law that promotes more equitable access to quality higher education for our children.
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 people.
He said however, concerns have been raised about the conditions for accessing the loan as contained in the Act, hence the need for a review.
The Chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Students Loans Access to Higher Education, Terseer Ugbor said that the Ad-hoc Committee would listen to stakeholders experiences, knowledge and expectations from the National Assembly and report back to the House.
The summit brought together stakeholders in the education sector to deliberate on the way forward for the student loan scheme.
Oduyemi Odumade, Edited By Grace Namiji
Written by: Bukky Alabi
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