The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) says the federal government should convert the student loan act to a grant.
Speaking on Channels Television on Monday, Emmanuel Osodeke, ASUU president, said the federal government should have considered room for a collective bargain from all sides before signing the bill into law.
Osodeke said the condition of the loan is not sustainable, adding that beneficiaries of similar initiatives in other countries were committing suicide due to the debts incurred.
The bill sponsored by Femi Gbajabiamila, immediate past speaker of the house of representatives, seeks to provide financial assistance to poor Nigerians to fund their education.
Beneficiaries of the loan will commence repayment after two years of completing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The ASUU president said 90 percent of Nigerian students will not be able to meet the “stringent requirements” to access and repay the loan.
“Some of these sources of income are there but we are believing that this would have been better if we are going to give it to those sets of students who are very poor. It will be called a grant, not a loan,” he said.
“Since it is coming from the federation account, it should be called a grant so that these people can have access and not when they are graduating, they will be carrying heavy loads behind them and when they don’t pay within two years, they go to jail.
“The law also says for you to have the loan, you must have two guarantors who are level 12 officers in civil service or a lawyer of 10 years. How many people from those villages have access to the calibre of people and how many Nigerians would want to stand as guarantors if they know they go to jail if the beneficiaries do not pay?
“The idea of student loans came in 1972 and it was in a bank established. People who took loans never paid.
“In 1994, 1993, the military enacted Decree 50 and also set up a students’ loan board. The national assembly domesticated it in 2004 and within a year, it went off. The money disappeared. We want to see how this one will be different.
“We as a union also did a research of countries all over the world, of people who have benefited from this loan. They were committing suicide.
“Recently, President Joe Biden is trying to pay back the bank loans of some who borrowed in the US.