The National Universities Commission (NUC) has cautioned the Governors of Kano and Osun states over sponsoring too many students to one country for higher qualifications which it noted would not promote diversity of knowledge.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at a roundtable on Cross Boarder Higher Education Strategic Partnership organised by the Commission and British Council, the NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Julius Okojie noted that sending about 500 students to just one country for scholarship would not encourage spread of knowledge.
This was as he lamented that recent Needs Assessment of Nigerian universities has revealed that Nigerian universities have more than 60 per cent academic staff without Phd, a development he said must be checked.
His words: “There is nothing wrong in Nigerian students going for higher degrees abroad but we can’t send all of them in one direction. If all students go to UI now, we won’t have a spread of knowledge. Some universities have special capacities and prospects; Ibadan is known for medicine and agriculture. It is also wrong to send all the students to UK or US.
Spread them so that when they are coming they will bring their wealth of experience from different countries. There would be that diversity; you need that diversity in the teaching staff; you can’t stay in the same university, with the same people who graduated from the same university, you won’t learn anything from each other. Diversity is very important. When all of them about 500 or 70 per cent of them go in the same direction we are going to have problem when they come back.”
While reiterating that those who have resources should send students to the right places for higher qualifications, Professor Okojie specifically mentioned Kano state government which according to him recently awarded scholarship to 500 deserving students noting that about 70 per cent of such students are going to Ukraine while the rest are to go to Turkey, Jordan and other countries.
He remarked that Nigerian government is collaborating with the British Council to coordinate and regulate cross boarder higher education so that deserving students can be directed to the right places.
“We are talking of facilities, when I was a lecturer at UI, British Council gave me some funds to go and complete my thesis at Edinburg. We have a problem of what I call competence staff that is going to supervise PhD students. With our regulations you can’t take more than given number of students if you are supervisor and you must be senior lecture with a PhD. Look at the system where you already have more than 60 percent who don’t have PhD.
How are they going to supervise? We are looking at the possibility of our people going out which is good for us and still retaining their jobs here because we call it split side training system.
With the Tetfund fund of N3billion for research and the recent launch of professional journals, you will find out that we are going to stimulate the system for better researches and publications. We also encourage those have research fund to include post-graduate students in their research work. It makes room for multi-disciplinary approach to research Endeavour”. He said
He expressed optimism that the situation would change in the next five to six years when academic staff sponsored for overseas training by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (Tetfund) return home.
While speaking, the Deputy Director of British Council, Amir Ramzan also corroborated that there are Nigerian lecturers without higher qualifications noting however that cross boarder tertiary education strategic partnership can help solve the problem.
He added that cross boarder tertiary education would also help to address the problem of time and resources militating against acquisition of higher qualification by bringing education opportunities to the country.
The British Council deputy director further stated that the roundtable would afford Nigeria and United Kingdom the opportunity of regulating and coordinating cross boarder tertiary education through sharing international experience and learning from other countries.
Five universities from the United Kingdom which include Nothingham University, University of Birmingham, University of Huddersfield and 35 Nigerian universities were represented at the roundtable.