Some of the students from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), who have had to defer their courses for non payment of school fees used their monies for other ventures such as sports betting, the University Relations Officer, Dr Daniel Norris Bekoe, has said.
Over 6000 students, representing about 8 per cent of the total student population of 85,276 at the KNUST have had to defer their courses in line with university regulations for non-payment of school fees.
The Academic Board of the KNUST on Tuesday made it known to the affected students that they were deferring their various programmes for non-payment of academic user fees.
Early this year, the university extended the payment date from March 21 to April 11, to allow the students to honour their obligation.
But, as of last week when mid-semester examinations were starting, the over 6000 students out of the 85,276 had reneged on their promises.
“Dear student, your programme has been deferred as you have not met the minimum requirement of the KNUST fees Credit and Debt Management Policy”, read the messages the university sent to the affected students.
The University Relations Officer, Dr. Daniel Norris Bekoe, told Graphic Online that some of the affected students have invested their fees in many businesses including online taxi hailing services and were yet to recoup the investment.
Some too, he alleged used their fees to engage in online sports betting and most of them have run at a loss.
On why the students were made to understand that they could go ahead and write their mid-semester exams and probably their results would be with-held until they pay, Dr Bekoe explained:
"...because the system is automatic, so we set the date, once the date elapses it means that, the system automatically defers you.
"So now the system is communicating through text messages to those people who are affected. If you are a student and you have paid that required percentage [70%] and you have registered, you can go through your head of department or the Office of the Dean of Students for..., they will guide you as to what to do so that, they can clear you."
"But we also know and we have sufficient evidence that, majority of these students who are having these challenges are students who have decided to use their school fees for other things apart from paying for the school fees."
"We know some have [bought] Uber cars which they use for businesses, some are into bakery, some are into selling of phones and accessories, and they use the school fees. So if you are using the school fees for that kind of purpose and then others also go to do betting, game betting and other things. So if you go and bet and the business goes bad, whose money is supposed to be used to run the university.
"It will interest you to know that every year, this university spends something in the region of GH¢22million to GH¢24million, paying only electricity bills, we are not talking about water, we are not talking about wifi [internet] bills, we are not talking about other things. So the students need to understand that the system in the university must exist for them to be part of it.
"So when you don't pay your fees and you are using your fees for illegal stuff, then you don't blame anybody. I will tell you something, we have audios of some parents and even pastors who have attempted to support some of the students with financial support or monies and those monies don't end up in the kitty, they use it to trade. So these are factual things, it is not like we are just conjecturing these allegations, they are facts. So when you are a student, you have to behave as such and every system has rules and regulations. So if a university of this stature is unable to account for the number of students by way of data, then what are we doing, we cannot plan, so we need to know those who want to be students," Dr Bekoe said.
Listen to Dr Bekoe in the attached audio
Meanwhile, the KNUST Students Parliament in reacting to the development has described the move as "harsh."
Below is a copy of a statement issued by the students
Deferment Of Indebted Students; A Call On Management And A Reminder To Government.
The KNUST Students' Parliament House has been alerted of deferment notices that have been served to some students.
The action was done, according to our knowledge, in compliance with the Student Credit and Debt Management Policy, which was implemented at the start of the academic year.
As a house, we'd like to convey our heartfelt gratitude to the university's leadership for their tremendous work in strategizing and steering our institution toward success.
We would like to express our gratitude to the University administration for implementing such a thorough policy to guide all students in the payment and settlement of all financial obligations owed to the University; the Student Credit and Debt Management Policy.
On the subject of indebted students being deferred, we would like to emphasize unequivocally that the decision to defer all defaulting students under the Student Credit and Debt Management Policy is, to say the least, harsh and inconsiderate, particularly at this time. We believe that enforcing the aforementioned policy during this academic year is not feasible.
This academic year, a policy that was only announced and enacted after most students had already made preparations for the academic year and reported to campus will be ill timed to enforce.
Furthermore, the University Relations Office and various forms of student communication did a poor job of informing students about the policy's requirements.
Except for an impromptu flier with a little portion of the policy captured on it, no extensive measures were taken to address Students on this issue.
We also suspect that some students might have pocketed their money and spent or gambled with them, yet the University took the information of each student's guardian or parents during the application procedure.
This is the moment to put those details to good use, and the dishonesty of those irresponsible students will be exposed.
A broad judgmental belief without a quantifiable gauge, on the other hand, would not be a step in the right direction.
We can't address this problem without taking into account the disruptions to the academic schedule caused by the UTAG strike, which has caused students to stay and spend longer than they intended before returning to campus.
We must keep in mind that some students are self-parenting and may be obliged to spend in to their tuition fees as a result of the extended academic calendar.
Furthermore we ask that, what happens to the deferred Students ahead of the end of semester examinations ? Are they going to write? What happens to the part payments students have made already, is the University refunding all back to the students? What happens to the exorbitant
hostels fees Students paid? Is the University going to negotiate a balance refund from all landlords and hostel managers?
Dear management, we know some few bad nuts among us are the reason we are where we are now, but there are more ways to get same results either than wholesale Deferment of students.
We state unequivocally that SRC has failed students in this matter on its core mandate of representation.
The SRC is not expected to at a time like this, be shortlisting names and making part payments for just a select few when it is evidently clear the SRC is not in a position to make any significant payment for even the shortlisted applicants. Two weeks after the introduction of the SRC Financial Aid, the process to settle the few selected persons has not yet been finalized.
An SRC that has not yet delivered the KBN and the SRC bursary halfway through the academic semester whose processes were initiated last academic year is not one to be trusted to deliver swiftly on a financial aid bound by deadlines.
All aside, in moments like this the SRC is not supposed to be a toothless bull dog but a strong arm of Student Interest advocacy. The SRC is supposed to use the over 80,000 Students population as a negotiation tool and not shortlisting and interviewing Students on criteria best known to them.
How do you measure genuinety in this critical moment? What happens to the Students who couldn’t make the
The SRC in this particular moment is operating below the belt.
This is the time for our government to walk the talk, for our government to fulfill its promise, for our government to remember the pledge it made to we Ghanaian students. ‘NO GHANAIAN STUDENT WILL REQUIRE A GUARANTOR TO ACCESS THE STUDENTS LOANS TRUST FUND’ This is the
This is the right moment for our leaders to come to the aid of the six thousand 6,000 future leaders who are financially deprived today. If indeed Ghana Card is the only requirement as the Policy provided, then we believe majority of these students will be saved through that promise. This is the time to make the STUDENTS LOANS TRUST FUND LOCAL SECRETARIAT ON CAMPUS A FUNCTIONING
In this critical times, we as a house recommend that;
1. Management should consider using this academic year to educate students on the new policy so it can take full effect the next academic year. This is our request to our listening mother (VC).
2. We wish to remind government on its own pledge that was made to the Ghanaian students.
3. We urge the SRC to be focus on its core mandate of advocacy and not their recent media gimmicks.
4. This is the time we plead with other student support schemes such as GNPC Scholarship Foundation, Cocobod scholarship, GETFund among others.
The Management we know have played a number of motherly when it comes to issues of students welfare. At a time like this, all we seek for is an extension of the time to next academic year.
This they have done before, and we know as listening leaders as they have always be, they will consider this too.
It is our hope that swift action be taken to reverse this action within the shortest possible time to give students the concentration and all the attention they need to sit for the end of semester examination.
Speaker of Parliament