Some students of the University of Calabar, Cross River State, have accused the management of the school of extortion after enrolling them to study courses yet to be accredited by the National University Commission.
PUNCH Metro gathered from the aggrieved students that after spending time and resources studying for the courses, the management informed them that the courses were unaccredited and thereafter, instructed them to study new courses.
One of the affected students, while lamenting starting afresh after spending years studying an unaccredited course, said the situation had thrown a lot of students of the school into confusion, adding that some of the students gained admission to study courses including Chemistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Physiology, among others, in the 2016/2017 academic session.
The student said, “When we started the course as pioneer students with barely any orientation, our pioneer Dean, Prof. Barnabas Toge, kept telling us to prepare our minds to spend one or two extra years because putting things in place for a new course takes time, and we didn’t have enough lecturers for all the courses we needed to learn in theory and practical, so those courses will be taught at the end of our programme.
“We agreed, and we were prepared because the courses we were studying had become our dream. We didn’t have a faculty building then but the Chemistry Department gave us space and we had to hustle to be included in the school’s portal, even to pay fees.”
The student said things started falling apart when the school informed them that the accreditation group would soon be visiting the department for assessment.
She said, “In 2019, we were told that a group would be coming for our accreditation. We were even made to sweep and clean up the entire faculty to prepare for this accreditation. We were in 300 level then. These people came for the accreditation and we were told that we had passed and received the first stage of accreditation.
“They explained that it remained two stages of accreditation. In 2020, while we were at 400 level, our dean came into the class and was chastising us for jeopardising the accreditation process by engaging the visitors and telling them that we were at 300 level as of the time they came, hence, the accreditation was withdrawn.”
The student said the situation degenerated when the school, during a meeting, told them that the Bachelor of Pharmacy programme had been scrapped from the school’s brochure and replaced with another six-year course.
“The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Florence Obi, who took over from Prof. Zana Akpagu, told us that she would try to rectify the situation and advised that if we could not wait or did not want to go through the process again, we should move to any department of our choice with the exception of Medicine and Dentistry,” the student said.
Also speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, another student told PUNCH Metro that he and other affected students had taken the matter to court to seek justice.
“We have been to court on five different occasions on this matter. We were extorted and demoted. We are seeking N500m as damages,” the student said.
Another student, who did not want her name in print, said, “Though my department is not affected, many other students, especially those in Pharmacy and Engineering are affected. I don’t think the Mass Communication Department has been able to produce any graduate since.”
Contacted, the Director of Press, Federal Ministry Education, Ben Goong, said the ministry could not comment on the operational issues in the institution.
Goong said, “If you have some operational questions relating to the tertiary institution, approach the institution itself. All the tertiary institutions are independent. The Vice-Chancellor will be in the best position to respond to this.
“If the VC cannot solve the problem, you can call the NUC. It is the NUC that handles the accreditation of courses at the universities. The ministry cannot be responsible for what the students are going through in their individual schools.”
Contacted on Wednesday, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Eyo Bassey, said, “The VC has met with the students on several occasions about this issue. I will give you a response on Monday.”