In a bid to enhance access to higher education for Nigerian students, Usman Barambu, the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students, has appealed to the House of Representatives to revise the Student Loan Act. Barambu emphasized the necessity of granting all Nigerian students the opportunity to obtain loans if they so desire.
During a legislative summit centered around student loans and higher education access, convened by the ad-hoc committee in Abuja on Thursday, Barambu voiced concerns about the existing stringent criteria for loan eligibility. He proposed an extension of the repayment period from the current two years to a more feasible four to five years. Additionally, Barambu raised the issue of guarantors, noting that the current requirements might deter many students from applying for loans due to their inability to meet these conditions.
One of Barambu’s key requests was the inclusion of student representation on the board overseeing the student loan program. He pointed out the current omission of polytechnics and colleges of education from the board, which currently only encompasses the National Universities Commission (NUC). Barambu underscored the importance of fairness and equity in representation across all educational sectors.
Professor Is-haq Oloyede, the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), who was represented at the summit, emphasized that student loans marked a pivotal juncture in Nigeria’s higher education landscape. Oloyede urged lawmakers to broaden the scope of the loan to encompass not just tuition fees but also other essential expenses such as accommodation, meals, and transportation, which have become increasingly significant.
JAMB further suggested diversifying the loan structure to account for varying financial needs and market dynamics. They stressed the importance of implementing guarantees to ensure the loan’s value remains resilient against inflation. Additionally, JAMB called upon the parliament to establish a robust accountability framework for the loan program to ensure its sustainability over time.
Muhammad Nami, Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), echoed the commitment of the revenue collection agency to collaborate with the parliament on the student loans initiative. Nami assured that once the mandate is granted, funding for the program will be promptly facilitated.
The collective efforts of stakeholders, including student leaders, education authorities, and government bodies, are directed toward reshaping the student loan landscape in Nigeria to be more inclusive, adaptable, and supportive of students’ financial needs throughout their academic journey.