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Challenges persist as UNILAG students ballot for scarce bed spaces

“The competition is fierce. It is not just a housing allocation process; it is a stressful and anxiety-ridden ordeal for many students.”
Moremi Hall, UNILAG
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The University of Lagos (UNILAG) has found itself in the social media spotlight this week due to a significant event in the lives of its students — the hostel balloting exercise. 

Thousands of students at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) are facing an uphill battle as they participate in a ballot system to secure one of the limited 8,000 hostel bed spaces on campus. However, the demand far exceeds the supply, and the situation has been marred by technical difficulties, leaving many students unable to access the portal and vie for official accommodations, thus forcing them into the expensive private hostel market.

“The competition is fierce. It is not just a housing allocation process; it is a stressful and anxiety-ridden ordeal for many students,” a final year student who failed to secure a bed space and wishes to remain unnamed, said.

The outcome of this exercise has a profound impact on students’ daily lives and their overall university experience. This ritual, much anticipated and occasionally dreaded, is a reflection of the unique challenges that this institution faces, from an overcrowded student population to technological hiccups. The crux of the matter is the severe inadequacy of hostel accommodations. Unilag’s infrastructure has not kept pace with its soaring student numbers. There is a palpable shortage of on-campus housing facilities. This problem forces a significant proportion of students to seek accommodation off-campus, often leading to daily commutes through Lagos’ notorious traffic and exposing them to other challenges, including security concerns. 

Reports indicate that numerous students repeatedly encountered issues accessing the system, causing frustration among both students and parents alike. The Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Musa Obalola, cited external factors as the root cause of the difficulties, stating that the students’ network strength and the type of devices used to log in might be contributing to the problems. With over 35,000 students vying for just 8,000 bed spaces, congestion during the early days of the exercise is another challenge. The issue is further exacerbated by the current renovation of some blocks of some hostels, including Moremi and Mariere halls, which has led to their removal from the options to select from.

The university administration is aware of these issues and has made little to no attempts to address them. Addressing the technical issues related to the online balloting system is crucial. The university needs to invest in robust IT infrastructure to ensure that students can access the system without disruptions. It is essential for the process to be fair and transparent, giving all students an equal opportunity to secure a place in the hostels.

This ballot system comes in the wake of recent controversies surrounding obligatory and hostel fees, which were initially raised and later reduced following protests by students and parents. For undergraduate hostels in Akoka and Yaba campuses, the fees were reduced to 43,000 naira from 90,000 naira and for hostels in Idi-Araba campus, the fees were reduced to 65,000 naira from 120,000 naira. Despite the reduction in fees, the scarcity of hostel beds continues to be a significant concern for UNILAG students, highlighting the need for a long-term solution to address the issue.

In the face of these challenges, Unilag remains a hub of academic excellence and a vibrant campus life. Students, while frustrated with the hostel allocation process, often excel academically on a global scale and engage in extracurricular activities. The diversity of the student body and the energetic atmosphere of Lagos contribute to a unique and enriching educational experience.

The hostel balloting exercise at Unilag represents a microcosm of the larger challenges faced by this prestigious institution. The university’s popularity and the growing number of students have strained its resources, particularly in terms of accommodation. The technical glitches in the online balloting process add a layer of frustration to an already stressful process. Despite these challenges, the spirit of Unilag perseveres, as students continue to pursue their academic and personal goals in the vibrant city of Lagos. The hope remains that, in the future, solutions will be found to address these pressing issues and provide a more comfortable and seamless experience for the students of Unilag.

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