Harbel College President Dr. Syrulwa Somah has clarified issues surrounding the recent registration fees increment at the college. He also denied students’ accusations that the recent increment in the registration fees was intended to sabotage President George Weah’s mandate declaring all public-run universities and colleges “tuition free.”
Dr. Somah said the administration has over the years adjusted its tuition and other fees to meet the growing needs of the students.
Dr. Somah said prior to the presidential pronouncement of “tuition-free” education in public universities, the Harbel College was ranked among some of the most affordable public-run institutions of higher learning in the country as students were charged US$3 per credit.
“The increment was meant to keep up with students’ demand for quality and standard education. In past semesters, students paid US$10 for physical education T-shirts, but the standard of printing was very poor and needed to improve to meet their taste and better serve them,” he said.
“So the upcoming semester, the fee was increased to US$15 in order to get T-shirts with higher quality. Our first physical education T-shirt was of poor quality. It was printed without the symbol of the college and with unattractive paint, which caused the students to complain,” he added.
Dr. Somah said due to the poor quality of the T-shirt, the students were ashamed of wearing it whenever they had an event with other universities and colleges, all because of its unattractive printing.
Somah said due to the situation, the administration added just US$5 in the fees charged for identification card.
He said it was due to complaints by the students that the previous identification card was not durable and just could not serve the students for a semester.
Somah said a portion of the money generated from the identification card will enable the administration to purchase its own equipment that will produce the identification card on campus, with no fees to the students.
As for the US$25 requested from science and engineering students for lab and field trips, Somah said that the college does not own a bus but hire commercial vehicles just to make a field trip, least to talk about an equipped laboratory.
“We pray that one day we can boast of a bus. We are indeed far from getting one due to low budgetary support to the institution. We will be happy if some well-to-do individuals can donate a bus to the college,” he added.
Somah said it was erroneous for people to speculate in the community and on radio that the college was charging US$130 as registration fee. “This is far from the truth,” he said.
He said with the exception of students in the science college that are charged extra US$25 for laboratory and field trips, non science students are exempted from paying such a fee.
He said old students with identification cards and T-shirt for physical education will not pay these requirements.
Dr. Somah said he had earlier communicated to the Board that his administration will need US$124,000 to operate this semester.
He said at this stage of the college’s operation, they need specialized lecturers to handle most of the courses.
Harbel College, which was established by an Act of the Legislature in 2012, is a full degree granting institution but ranks among the least funded public institutions of higher learning in the country. The college, which started full operations in 2016, runs three schools and, if all goes well, it might put out its first graduates next year.