By Oghenefego Obaebor
IN a move to uplift the standard of accommodation of university students in Nigeria, experts have called on concerned agencies to look into the possibility of students getting convenient accommodations close to their schools to improve their living conditions and enhance assimilation rate, as proximity of students’ accommodation to their schools directly influences their academic performance.
Citing a recent study, experts pointed out that a student’s living and learning environment should be situated close to each other in order to produce well-rounded, academically sound students which will be evident in their performance in academics.
According to them, majority of tertiary institutions in and outside Nigeria make it compulsory for first year and final year students to live on campus. Unfortunately, there is a huge gap in the availability of basic student accommodation in general in Nigeria, the study stated.
It noted that the National Bureau of Statistics and Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board reports that less than 30 per cent of the 1.7 million university applicants in 2017 were able to gain entry into tertiary institutions in Nigeria. With a total combined ‘approved’ capacity of less than 850,000 places annually, the education system and its supporting infrastructure is continuously being stretched beyond capacity.
“Housing is a basic need and fundamental human right of every individual. In Nigeria, the struggle to get decent housing at a reasonable cost is a constant issue faced by the majority of her citizens and the same can be said of students. Students, especially in state and federal institutions are now accustomed to living in very poor conditions.
“It is ideal for housing to be situated in a setting which has adequate commercial, social, religious, educational, welfare and health facilities. Residents who are not able to fully utilise these resources will experience a great deal of stress.
“The same could be said for a student who lives in poor overcrowded housing, having to share facilities such as bathrooms and kitchens with more people than the space was intended for, leading to a lack of privacy and the inability to function ‘normally.’ Poor housing, as an immediate environmental stressor, therefore plays a central role in the psychological well-being of students.
They cited some examples of recent findings. One was a survey carried out on the state of basic infrastructure (water supply, refuse disposal and building condition) in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife which showed that most of the university’s student hostels facilities have deteriorated. (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Lagos).
An assessment on the condition of student hostels in UNILAG shows that the majority of the facilities are in bad condition – 52.5% described the facilities as ‘poor,’ 27% described the facilities as ‘good’, and the rest as ‘fairly good.’ (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UNILAG).
An assessment on housing facilities in The Polytechnic, Ibadan showed that 66.7% of the facilities provided were inadequate whilst 33.3% were adequate. (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Bells University)
Not having adequate security is also a major issue that affects a student’s academic performance because they end up living in constant fear of harm or theft of property and are not fully able to concentrate in their lectures or walk to and from libraries late at night.
Living in noisy and overcrowded residences with minimal supervision puts students at risk of falling ill or not being able to have private study time.
Research has shown that poor health seems to be the underlying factor for students’ low performance and/or even early school dropout. This can be attributed to poor amenities – unsafe water, unsanitary bathrooms/toilets and poorly ventilated rooms. Creating a hygienic and sanitary living environment has a great influence on the growth and development of the student both mentally and physically.
Other factors that could affect the academic performance of students include transportation – having to travel a long distance to get to school may mean missing some important lectures, lack of funds for to sustain themselves at university etc.
The second most populous university in Nigeria, has a total student population of 58,000. Yet, the university only has 8,000 bed spaces available. In order to successfully churn out graduates, this surge in demand for university spaces will also require a surge in investment in all accompanying services such as lecture halls, accommodation, infrastructure, staff etc. However, due to lack of funds, the authorities are unable to cater for the growing demand for accommodation.