Extortion scandal rocks NTA College

students of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Television College (TV COLLEGE) have accused the management of extortion, following the hike in tuition fees and introduction of N7,500 industrial training monitoring fee. The students are misguided, says the Acting Rector. YAKUBU BUSARI reports.

 All is not well at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) Television College (TV COLLEGE), Rayfield in Jos, the Plateau State capital. The management and students are at loggerheads over a hike in tuition and introduction of N5,000 as penalty for late payment. Students described the action as extortion.
The students alleged that the Acting Rector, Ms Halima Bewell, is extorting them by raising the school fees arbitrarily and making the school unaffordable to the poor. Because of the hiked fees, many of them, the students complained, have dropped out of the college.
The college was established as a diploma-awarding institution for courses, such as Television Production, Journalism and Engineering. In 2003, it partnered with the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, Kaduna State, to become a degree-awarding institution for Television Production and Journalism disciplines only.
Since the partnership with ABU, the aggrieved students alleged that the Bewell-led management has continued to raise the fee without any improvement in teaching and supporting facilities. The students said since the college is owned by the Federal Government, its fees should be affordable.
“We pay exorbitant fees that cannot be accounted for,” they wrote in their letter of complaint made available to CAMPUSLIFE.
The letter reads: “In 2014, the school fee was raised to N81,000, which we agreed to pay. When we resumed for the 2015 session, the returning students were informed by the school authorities that the fee had been raised to N91,000. We were not told the modalities used to arrive at the figure.
“There was no memo to the effect. The information came to us as rumour and we complied. Those who could not meet up with the deadline of tuition payment were asked to pay N5,000 as fine. Defaulters face compulsory deferment of their programmes.”
CAMPUSIFE gathered that freshers admitted for degree programmes will pay N100,000, while their diploma counterparts are expected to pay N120,000.
The management, the students said, extorts them by asking those going for Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) to pay money to the school. It was learnt that students, who will have their SIWES in Jos, are asked to pay N5,500, while those going outside the state are to pay N7,500. The management gave students three weeks to pay the fees, after which defaulters would be fined.
Despite the increment, students alleged that the TV COLLEGE lacked equipment that could aid their learning.
“We are wondering what Ms Bewell do with the funds the school generates, because we don’t have necessary equipment. We want the world to know that students are financially responsible for all the expenses on our production assignments. We don’t get anything from the school.
“The college does not have enough camera and recording gadgets. We usually hire the equipment. The school has only two cameras for about 2,000 students. When students write to the management to release the cameras for use, it is almost impossible for the school to release them, because of the bureaucratic procedure, which made the management to decline approval. As the only television school in the country, the college is supposed to be transmitting but we don’t. We are supposed to have a radio station, but the management does not look in that direction except to exhort us.”
Ms Bewell denied the allegations, saying the students were misguided. She said the decision to hike the fee was taken by the management team. She said since she resumed as Acting Rector of the college, all funds accruing to the college had been judiciously channeled for the development of the institution.
She said the increment was necessary to enable the school cope with cost of administration.
She said: “We struggle to maintain the college. We have been using our internally-generated revenue to upgrade the school e-library and sustain our website. We also provide facilities for accreditation of our courses and pay lecturers.”
Asked if it was lawful to ask students to pay money before they could be allowed to go for industrial training, Ms Bewell said the money to be spent by the college to supervise the scheme would be more than the amount students were asked to pay.
She said the college had managed its resources judiciously, adding that the major source of revenue for the college is from sale of Diploma and degree programme forms. Despite paucity of funds, Bewell said the management was able to maintain standard hostels and classrooms to provide conductive environment for learning.

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