By Geraldine Anyanwu
The Dean of Student Affairs, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Prof. Edwin Omeje, has explained the cause of limited accommodation for students on the campus.
The Dean said the reason for limited space is due to the rapid growth in the population of students admitted over the years that has outstripped the available hostels.
According to him, the University at inception was structured in a way that students were meant to live inside the campus. This means that once a student is admitted to the university they are expected to live in the school environment (hostel) until graduation.
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Speaking in an interview, Prof. Omeje said: “The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) according to the structuring by one of the founding fathers (Nnamdi Azikiwe), was founded as a residential and a land grant university; is agricultural-minded to a large extent. It is created to have a holistic comfort for the student.”
He noted that the University was built, to accommodate about 220 students on the 7th of October 1960 and was sufficient for the population of admitted students then, but as of today the university’s total population is about 67,000, hence the geometric progression.
“Ideally, the university should be thinking of developing more hostels to accommodate the growing population of students, but the challenges of funding, the current economic situation in the country and the availability of limited sponsors, have hindered us from achieving certain accommodation goals, as any administration can only work with the available resources,” the Dean lamented.
He added that “some Boys’ hostels in the university like Bello, Aja Nwachukwu, Okeke, Kwame Nkrumah among others, were converted strategically to female hostels as over the years the number of female students who go to school superseded the males, contrary to what it was from the inception of the school.”
He further stated that “the University of Nigeria, Nsukka campus has a total of 17 hostels (excluding Enugu campus) and it requires a lot to maintain the hostels. Just that most of the hostel buildings were constructed around 1963, so they are quite strong, as for ZIK’s FLAT that went down flat, it was due to the fact that the building has aged and also the lack of funds for maintenance of the hotel.”
Responding to the question of why it is difficult for students to get hostels online he explained that as the population of the students grew, the ratio of possibility of the students getting hostels became slim.
“The University of Nigeria has 13,600 bed spaces to approximately 14,000 when I became the Dean of Students’ Affairs, a lot of our students were involved in fraudulent activities. Some hostel spaces were not available but people went behind to allocate them. So I increased it from around 6,200 to 6,400 over 200 bed spaces were recovered. 6,724 bed spaces of different standards. And Enugu campus (UNEC) has about or above 3,000, while Ituku-Ozalla has bed spaces less than 2,000.”
He said that female students are more in population than male, hence the allocation of more hostels to them. “And we go further to consider the first years because they are usually more and not familiar with the school environment. 40% of the hostel space is allocated to them, 20% for the final years, 20% for other years, and 10% for staff biological children, although some students still go to some staff to plead for approval for them to get space as staff children. 5% is for the chief administrators, and the remaining 5% is for friends of the university and other external/administrative staff (staff of the Vice Chancellor), etc. With this number of population, is it not expected that the server challenges won’t exist? Even your phone, if overused will encounter challenges like seizing or hanging,” he stated.
He, however, added that “if it is possible the school will appreciate to accommodate the whole of her students as advantages abound in students living on the campus.”