A number of aspiring pilots who applied to study at aviation schools were forced to pause their plans because of the over 100% tuition hike in Nigeria.
BusinessDay’s findings revealed that the major licensed schools for pilot training which are Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria and International Aviation College, Ilorin, have hiked fees by 100 percent.
According to investigations, NCAT raised its standard pilot training charge from N7.5 million to N17.5 million, while IAC increased its fee from N12.5 million to N25 million.
A private aviation institution, Private Flyers Academy, in Kaduna was said to have increased its private pilot licence fee from N6 million from N8 million.
An intending student pilot, Chijoke Okafor, told BusinessDay that he has had to put his study on hold because of the school fees hike.
In his words, “I had to suspend my decision to study in Zaria because my parents cannot afford the fees. Being a pilot has always been my dream and we had saved up to pay N7.5 million, only to find out that the institution had raised its fees. This is so discouraging.”
“A lot of student pilots have had to suspend their admission process because their parents cannot afford to pay the exorbitant amount. If you don’t have a sponsor or an airline willing to pay for you to train in these institutions, then it may be impossible to study in these institutions,” he further stated.
The rector and chief executive officer of IAC,
Yakubu Okatahi, said it was beyond his control as fuel prices and foreign exchange shortage have forced the institution to increase tuition fee. This, he told BusinessDay.
He said, “Before now, our school fee was N12.5 million for the whole course but we have increased the fees now. NCAT Zaria is now charging over N17.5 million. We will not stop at N17 million because it is not adequate but we have not determined how much it is going to be.
“NCAT gets subsidies from the government and grants. They also share in the Bilateral Air Service Agreement money. They share the money being collected by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria. We don’t get anything. So, we don’t have anything to cushion the effects of aviation fuel price increase. Our school fees will be more than N17.5 million.”
He clarified that the cost of studying to become a pilot is high because practically everything is paid for in foreign currency.
He beckoned on the Federal Government to come to the aid of the aviation schools.
“We are training Nigerians and these Nigerians are going to work for Nigerian airlines. It is just reasonable for the federal government to allocate money to aviation institutions. We pay customs duties on our imported parts. The federal government should look into this and give us waivers and subventions on this.”
Meanwhile, those that can afford the schools are attending but they are predominantly students sponsored by the state government, communities, and those that are wealthy or even specific airlines.
“It is really difficult for an average Nigerian to pay the school fees. I am the one sponsoring myself currently because I have had to save for a long time while working as a senior dispatch person for Air Peace,” Tochi Ike Emmanuel, a student pilot currently studying at IAC said.
BusinessDay also reported that an instructor at NCAT and president of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers said that the current economic situation in Nigeria has caused the increased fees.
In his words,“While we understand that not all prospective students can afford the fees, an increase in fees is just a cost-recovery process.”