Oftentimes, when we compare notes, many of my colleagues in the Public Relations/Corporate Affairs units of other Nigerian universities openly express surprise at the relative calm and harmony that reign on UNILORIN campus. Hardly would you hear about disruptive student unrest that has become regular occurrences in some other institutions of higher learning, some of them would wonder aloud. My simple response has always been: ‘responsive management, effective communication, and inclusivity’.
Here, we are always guided by the principle of ‘management with human face’ in every decision taken by the University administration. Our internal and external communication strategy is also superb! Added to these is the principle of inclusivity by which every segment and stakeholder of the University, no matter their social status, is carried along in every decision making.
One of the practical manifestations of these principles was the process that led to the recently released school charges payable by our new and returning students. Everybody knows that with the current economic realities in the country, some hikes in school charges are inevitable. So, it was very clear that it is just a matter of time for sundry institutions of higher learning to start to unveil new charges across board.
While some universities raised their charges by over 1000 per cent, generating considerable bad blood among their students populace, the ever considerate management of the Better-by-far University only effected a marginal increase after fruitful engagements with the institution’s Students’ Union leadership.
To all intents and purposes, this is the hallmark of inclusivity and humane management style, indeed, management with human face!
This is probably why the release of the new charges was received, if not with hearty cheers, but definitely with calm understanding by a cross section of the student populace.
Another masterstroke that prevented the students from negatively reacting to the increase was the segmentation of the charges rather than making it a flat rate for both fresh and returning students as it was done in many other universities and which, of course, attracted rather adverse reactions from their students.
Here, our management, in its wisdom and humane disposition, decided not to overstretch the returning students, which is why their charges are far less than what the freshers would be required to pay.
In the build up to resumption for the 2022/2023 academic session, the management released a new set of charges for the various Faculties on Friday, November 24, 2023. Even though these charges were not too exorbitant, considering the extant economic realities in the country, it, nevertheless, generated some reactions among the students, who promptly initiated a meeting with the management on the possibility of downscaling the charges.
The initial charges ranged between N138, 240 and N254, 640 for new students and N69, 360 and N103, 560 for returning students, depending on courses of study.
Following the constructive engagements between the University management and the students’ leaders, the charges were considerably reduced.
The new charges released on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, barely four days after the initial announcement, now range between N114, 720 and N215, 820 for new students and N52, 700 and N91, 430 for returning students, depending on courses of study.
In his remarks at the meeting, held on Monday, November 27, 2023 at the University Council Chambers, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Prof. Abayomi Omotesho, who stood in for the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Wahab Olasupo Egbewole, SAN, stressed the importance of fostering a peaceful learning environment in the institution. He encouraged the Students’ Union leaders to continue to engage in constructive dialogue with management for sustainable peace and harmony on the University campus. He added that the University’s commitment to addressing students’ concerns through dialogue and its willingness to adjust school charges reflect a dedication to fostering a supportive and conducive learning environment for the students.
On his part, the President of the University Students’ Union, Comrade Joseph Ologundudu, expressed gratitude to the University management for its thoughtfulness as reflected in the prompt adjustment of the charges.
Comrade Ologundudu particularly acknowledged the leadership style of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Wahab Egbewole, SAN, as exemplified in his flexibility to respond to the concerns of the student body.
The University management did not stop there. On Thursday, December 7, 2023, the management also announced a 25% school charges rebate for biological children of the University staff who are students of the institution, both new and returning. This is a great relief for the concerned staff and a further show of humane leadership by the Egbewole-led administration.
And so, as the University formally flung open its doors for the commencement of the 2022/2023 academic session last Monday (December 4, 2023), the campus of harmony has resumed its hustle and bustle with students, both returning and fresh ones, going about their registration formalities peacefully and in very high spirits.
UNILORIN’s unique and exemplary management style that places the interest of the University’s stakeholders, especially the student populace, over and above other interests is highly recommended not only for other universities but also for all human organisations that have significant population of youths in their care. Such human-faced management style, without undue grandstanding and unnecessary rigidity, is a veritable recipe for organisational peace, which, in turn, is a categorical imperative for the achievement of organisational goals. And this is one of the things that make UNILORIN tick!
*AKOGUN IS THE DIRECTOR, CORPORATE AFFAIRS, UNIVERSITY OF ILORIN