Representatives George Mulbah and Lester Paye, both of Bong County, have called for a review of the documents that permitted the Cuttington University (CU) to operate in the county.
The two lawmakers told local journalists on Saturday, March 18, in Gbarnga that their decision to request for the documents stems from the unprecedented hike in tuition by the school’s administration.
With Liberia being an impoverished country where parents find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to meet their children’s basic needs, including education, the lawmakers said the increase in school fees at CU is a clear indication that they want to deprive the disadvantaged from acquiring higher education.
“We believe that CU was purposely established in Bong County to complement government’s efforts to educate its citizens, and not to increase tuition at the detriment of poverty-stricken parents,” the two lawmakers said.
They also told journalists that they will write a formal communication to the House of Representatives to invite the CU administration to appear before plenary to explain why it hiked school fees although the national government provides a subsidy to the institution.
“In the 2016/2017 fiscal year, CU received more than US$1 million as subsidy, but school fees are yet high,” they said.
CU was moved to Suakoko, Bong County in 1948 from Harper, Maryland County, on 1,500 acres of land provided by the people of Bong County.
“We are of the strong opinion that the CU administration may not have paid money for those huge acres of land. There is a pressing need for CU and us to go back to the drawing board and review the documents,” the two lawmakers declared.
On March 2, 2016, the CU administration informed students and other stakeholders of its revised payment plan policy that requires self-sponsored students to deposit 75 percent of tuition and 100 percent of all other fees, including dormitory, laboratory, meals, as well as semester required fees, in cash at registration, and to the make payment of the remaining 25 percent at mid-term.
The revised payment plan explained that the registration fee, which was previously US$155 during Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa’s administration, that was stepped-up by 25 percent under Dr. Evelyn Kandakai to US$194 (now US$232.50), is expected to climb a further 25 percent every semester to 100 percent.
The revised payment plan says, “considering the continuous downward trend in the Government of Liberia’s financial support (subsidy) to CU and the undue delay in payment of tuition by self-sponsored students and scholarship donors resulting into accumulation of huge receivables at the end of every semester; for this, CU’s executive council has resolved to revise the tuition payment plan for all students including those at the graduate school.”
Although the revised tuition payment policy did not mention increment in school fees each semester, it is, however, increased every semester by 25 percent until it reaches 100 percent.
The CU administration has persistently maintained that until the government can live up to the agreed 80 percent support it previously signed with CU, the school will not lower its fees.
Because of the unprecedented hike in tuition, hundreds of students including graduating students may not attend this semester as registration closed on Saturday, March 18, 2017.
Meanwhile, the CU administration headed by its president, Dr. Herman B. Browne, is yet to comment on the proposal.