Open Letter to Minister of Works & Housing on exorbitant fees charged by some hostels at UG
I bring you warm greetings and congratulate you on your passion and the industriousness you have developed for the job assigned to you.
There is an unhealthy development going on regarding the operation and running of hostels in and around the campuses of universities and other tertiary institutions in the country which I think needs to be checked.
It is about the wanton way by which these hostels fix their fees without recourse to any regulation from the Rent Control Department under your Ministry, Works and Housing. My investigations have revealed that, there are several hostels engaged in this act and I will later bring their names out when I am done with my checks.
A particular case in point I find worrying has to do with Evandy Hostel at the University of Ghana, Legon. The fees they charge ranges from Ghc5,200 to Ghc13,000 per academic year, usually two semesters with a maximum of four months in each semester. So effectively, an occupant in any of their accommodation stays within a duration of eight months, which implies that the minimum duration will be shorter.
For instance, in Evandy hostel, 4 in a room are to pay Ghc5,200 each, 2 in a room going for Ghc8,000 while a single room standard goes for Ghc13,000. It is mind boggling how authorities of a hostel facility can sit down and come out with such astronomical amounts and expect parents and guardians to find money to pay. Was affordability factor considered, looking at the economic hardships people are going through in recent times? One would have thought that, if for nothing at all, owners and operators of these facilities would have liaised with the university authorities and come to flexible terms like payment by installment for students who otherwise may not have the financial muscle to pay the huge charges at a go.
Some of the questions that come to mind in these matters is the issue of control and regulation. I am wondering if there is anybody or an entity within the estate unit of the universities that keep an oversight responsibility on the running of hostels on campuses or they are just given a free range to operate within their own whims and caprices. If the latter is the case, then the Estate sections of universities in the country need to wake up and come out with modalities for charging of fees in line with the universities policies on fee charges by the hostels within their catchment areas.
I understand the Rent Control Department has a regulation that bars payment of rent beyond six months. The maximum duration does not go beyond six months. How does this relate and apply to private and public hostel facilities on the university campuses in Ghana?
Is it not possible to either reduce these expensive hostel fees to reflect the current economic conditions in the country or stagger the payment into months to make it easier and more convenient for students to pay? We should not forget that, education is a right and must be made accessible and affordable for all and so, any encumbrance that tend to make education a privilege for the rich at the disadvantage of the poor, should be guarded against.
I am by this letter, appealing to your good office, to look into the fee fixing mechanism of all hostels in the country particularly Evandy Hostel in the University of Ghana with the possibility of asking them to take a second look at their charges.
I will further suggest that, your Ministry take an eye and an interest in the running of hostels around tertiary institutions especially universities. At the end of the day, government is the one that will be blamed ultimately by parents and guardians if nothing is done to check this unbridled charging of astronomical fees by the hostels.
I hope to hear a favourable response and an action taken to address this issue.
Prince Adjei – Guy Gee
Akosua Frema Osei-Opare
(Chief of Staff of Ghana)
Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo
(Vice-Chancellor of University of Ghana)