The Federal Ministry of Education says the implementation of the Students Loans scheme is scheduled to commence during the 2023/2024 academic session.
The Permanent Secretary Mr David Adejo, stated this during a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on Students Loans.
Mr Adejo emphasized that President Bola Tinubu has directed the completion of necessary work on the modalities for the implementation, with a target start date in September 2023.
According to him, the president has established a coordinating committee, with the Chief of Staff serving as the chairman, adding that the committee comprises key entities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Federal Budget Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and others.
The permanent secretary, who described the recent increase in charges by federal universities in the country as unfortunate, explained that no federal University in the country was allowed to collect tuition fees from students.
“What they collect is charges to cover the cost of accommodation, ICT, and power, among others. It is the Governing Councils of the Universities that have the power to approve such charges for them.
“The only university that increased charges after the signing of the student loans act is the University of Lagos. They came to the Ministry with a proposal to Increase their charges because all Governing Councils were dissolved and we gave them approval.
The permanent secretary further explained that the charges collected by the institutions are used by them to pay for some of their services, including electricity bills.
The director of Legal Services of the Central Bank of Nigeria who represented the Acting Governor of the Central Bank, Mr Kofo Alada said the student loan would be technology driven.
He said it was being designed in such a way that will eliminate physical contact and movement of papers, while the students will be expected to apply for the loan from the comfort of their homes.
Mr Alada noted that they would work with the various tertiary institutions that would be assigned unique codes, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and other bodies involved in tertiary education in the country to make the process much easier.
He explained the CBN will not be responsible for the funding of the exercise, adding that its responsibility will be the bankers to the fund as the funds will be provided solely by the government.
Alada, however, said that the technical committee was working on how to avoid a constitutional crisis later when states will go to court to challenge funds being drawn from the federation account to implement the scheme.
He stated that the technical design for accessing the loan has been completed, adding that vendors are being invited to commence work on the design.
The chairman of the committee, Mr Teseer Ugbor said the students’ loan was part of the palliatives by the federal government to alleviate the suffering of Nigerians and ensure access to higher education by interested Nigerians.
He, however, expressed concern about the disbursement process, the recovery of the funds from beneficiaries as well as the possibility of some students not being able to access the loan.