School Accommodation: A new student headache unlocked

“My dad pleaded with me to reduce my pocket money. Now I can’t even afford to eat a balanced diet on campus.”

Stephen, University of Ghana student, shares how an estimated GHȼ500 increment in his hostel fees has made campus life more difficult for him.

He stays in the Jean Nelson Aka hall. Life was running smoothly until his hall fees increased just about 48 hours before school resumed.

His parents had budgeted their expenses based on the previous fees so news of the increment took them by surprise.

“My parents budgeted their expenses based on the previous fees and since the new fees schedule came on such short notice, it took them by surprise. They were forced to borrow money to support the family. It was just seven weeks ago we vacated and the prices also didn’t come out early. They just came out and I think in 48 hours’ time we had to start week one.”

Stephen’s father was forced to borrow money to help him complete his final year because he wasn’t the only child. He now has to ditch taxi rides to start walking because his parents cannot afford it.

Even with his meagre savings, he faces another challenge, food.

According to him food prices have also risen steeply.

“Three years back, GHȼ20 could fetch you a very satisfying meal but now with that same amount of money, you hardly get satisfied.”

The cost of living has skyrocketed on the University of Ghana campus causing many to abandon their hostels and in some worse cases, drop out of school completely.

Turkson is also a final-year student and has witnessed firsthand, the impact of the situation on his roommates.

Turkson says some of his mates failed to register for their courses and even get accommodation in the hostels because they couldn’t afford it. He is now alone in his room because his roommates had to drop out because they owed fees.

“As at just the second week in school after this academic year’s reopening, I was the only one in my room of four. After checking with administration, I found out that three of my friends had not reported mainly because they could not settle their hostel fees.”

He also attested to the fact that the fees came on such short notice.

“The increase came unaware. We were just there, few days to the school resumption they brought a new fees schedule which was very hasty.”

In July 2023, Ghana Hostels Limited, popularly known as Pent Hall on the University of Ghana campus, increased their fees sharply.

Joe stays in Pent, he is currently in level 200 studying business administration. He shares his view on the price adjustments

“Things weren’t like this before. The 2-in-a-room alternative at the hostel has increased by about GHȼ3,000 and the authorities gave no reason for the price increase and did not even inform us beforehand. Just price increase just like that.”

For Naa, a second-year engineering student, she had no other choice. Affected by the university’s in-out-out-out hostel policy, she had to pay through her nose to get a room at Pent because she was booted out after her first year.

“The university brought out a new policy that starting from our batch they are clearing all non-first year students from the traditional hall system. Considering how accepting students into the UGEL halls would be done through random allocation and there was a high chance that I wouldn’t have made the cut because we were many without accommodation. So I thought it best to apply to Pent which is first of all close to my faculty, and is much more affordable than the private hostels on campus.”

Despite a sharp rise in hostel fees for University of Ghana students, many are of the view that they aren’t getting their money's worth.

Afia is one of the strong advocates of better hostels. She continues to push for better living conditions in hostels.

“I really don’t think I’m getting my money's worth because some closets that were spoilt even before the price increase are still spoilt and there are many spoilt fridges. We’ve reported countless times, but the authorities aren’t minding us.”

The rise in the cost of living on campus is taking a huge toll on the students. Aside from the difficult courses they are pursuing; they now also have to think about how to make ends meet. They are hoping for the school authorities to do something about the high cost of living on campus.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.