Students suffer as sanctions kick in

May 10, 2002

European Union sanctions imposed nine years ago on Togo are finally having damaging effects on the country's higher education system with a 500 per cent increase in tuition fees.

The falling value of phosphate, which is the country's main foreign exchange earner and is partly used by the state to subsidise higher education, has reduced the ability of the university authorities to continue underwriting costs of tuition, teaching and research.

Ampah Johnson, vice-chancellor of the University of Togo, said: "As a result of a steady fall in the government grant to the university, coupled with the inability of the university to generate sufficient revenue, the authorities decided to increase various student fees."

Tuition fees have increased from CFA Fr4,500 (£4.00) to CFA Fr50,000 for undergraduate and masters' courses. Foreign students are charged CFA Fr200,000. At doctorate level, full-time students would pay CFA Fr100,000.

The cost of a bed space for students living on campus has risen from CFA Fr2,000 to CFA Fr5,000. Meal tickets and student bus tariffs have also increased in price.

Students have protested at the increases. Wassina Christine, a law student, said: "Most of us who receive state bursaries receive CFA Fr21,600 a year. This rate was fixed in 1970 when the university was created. Despite the fact that inflation and the effects of the 50 per cent devaluation in 1994 are still with us, bursaries have remained unchanged. I do not see how we can cope with these new fees."

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