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Dangers in having too many private varsities, by LAUTECH VC

Posted by From GABRIEL DIKE, Osogbo on 2008/01/08 | Views: 1176 |

Dangers in having too many private varsities, by LAUTECH VC


The Vice Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Professor Babatunde Adeleke has expressed concern over the number of private universities being licensed in the country by the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC) and wondered how they get lecturers for their academic programmes.

The Vice Chancellor of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Professor Babatunde Adeleke has expressed concern over the number of private universities being licensed in the country by the Federal Government through the National Universities Commission (NUC) and wondered how they get lecturers for their academic programmes.

Professor Adeleke who spoke in Osogbo while explaining reasons for the recent increment in fees in LAUTECH also spoke on why the nationís universities insist on post UME screening of candidates, ASUU and SSANU ultimatum, accreditation of its courses, 70:30 admission ratio, physical development of the institution and the contentious issue of free education.

Increament in school fees
LAUTECH has been developing over the past 17 years but over the past 17 years, the school fees charged by the university has been reviewed twice. At the last review which was in 2003, the fees for new students (100 level) was N 11,000 and returning students paid N 6,000. The population of our students have increased from 450 in 1990 to 20,000 undergraduates. With that kind of increase in students population, there will also be an increase in facilities provided, lecture space and equipment knowing fully well that LAUTECH is a science based university and all these required a lot of money. We are grateful to the governments of Oyo and Osun states for funding the institution. It is because the two states have funded the university that has enabled the institution to rise to the present status of being the best university and third best in the country for the past four years.

The funds from the owners of the university cannot cope with the increase in rate of improvement and demands on our resources. So, we had to look inward and see what areas we can improve our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We also did some calculation, we asked ourselves some questions such as how much it will cost us to train a student in LAUTECH in Sciences, Engineering and Medical Services and we came up with figures such between N350,000 to N450,500 per annum. For the engineering students, it ranges between N350,000 to N400,000 per session. If you put these figures side by side with the N11,000 and N6,000, obviously something is wrong.

We went further by sending a team round some universities in the South West to find out how much students were paying in such institutions and came up with a comparative analysis of tuition fees of N 35,000 per session and the committee also came up with information that most of the universities visited were planning to review their fees upward. When we put all these together, the only way we can improve the system is to look at how much fees the students are paying and it was generally accepted that there should be cost sharing between parents, university and the proprietors, each bearing one third of the cost and if we apply this, we will be asking parents to pay between N 120,000 to N150,000 per session. But given the economic reality of the two states, the university proposed that students taking courses in Medicine should pay N60,000 per session, students in Engineering to pay N 55,000 while students in other areas will pay N50,000 per session. We took the figures through the due process within the university such as the Development Committee, Senate, Governing Council and Congregation before the figures were approved by the council.

Meetings with students on new fees
We held series of meetings with the students to let them know what was coming and the rationale behind our proposing this new tuition fees. The students protested and some parents also pleaded that the increase was too rapid and after due consultations with the other stakeholders within the system, the university gave a concession that N10,000 should be removed across the board and the fees were reduced to N40,000, N45,000 and N50,000. But as a concession to the returning students, the management felt that it should demonstrate its concern to these students and the university decided that students should pay N40,000 flat across the board irrespective of the courses. We thanked God that the situation is become normal on campus and activities are going on. We have decided that the resumption date because of the Muslim and Christian holidays, the students will come in early January 2008 for the resumption of 2007/2008 academic session

Improvement of facilities and accreditation of courses
Until the next assessment by the NUC, we are still the best state university as of the moment and the third best in Nigeria. The university has made some effort in improving its facilities and academic programmes. NUC visited LAUTECH in November 2007 for re-accreditation of ten of its programmes, two in the sciences and eight in engineering.

We are hoping that we will get positive results from that. Also, professional accreditation have been done for our professional courses such as Urban and Regional Planning, Acounting and Engineering courses. Most of our academic programmes are fully accredited and the others with interim status will be fully accredited. Our new courses are currently being visited by the NUC team and for physical development, there are seven workshops being constructed in Faculty of Engineering.

Also in the Faculty of Sciences, we are constructing laboratory complex for 100 level students with 400 capacity for the Departments of Chemistry, Physics and Biology. At the Ogbomoso campus, we are constructing an ICT centre and another one for our pre-degree programmes. We have also introduced wireless internet access facilities at Osogbo and Ogbomoso campuses. Our website is rated as one of the best in the country.

Admission policy for varsities
The 70:30 quota is a Federal Government policy on admission. I, as an individual donít think it is workable because the universities canít give what they donít have. Government cannot enforce this policy when the products of our secondary schools donít meet that ratio. If you check the WASSCE and SSCE results of both WAEC and NECO, you will discover that the percentage of students who pass science subjects such as Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology is less than 30 per cent. So, if this is the situation, many would not be admitted to meet the 70 per cent ratio.

Before government enforces this policy, it must look at the percentage of students coming from the secondary schools with credits in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics to ensure the implementation of the policy.

With this situation, Nigerian universities will not be able to meet the quota. It may not be possible as of now to insist on the 70 : 30 ratio but that is the policy of the federal government and for us at LAUTECH, it is not a problem because we are science-based university.

Private varsities
It is good that we are having private universities springing up. But question is where are the lecturers coming from? This question must be linked with the postgraduate training in Nigerian universities because from the postgraduate pool we are going to produce lecturers who have Ph.D to teach in this private universities. From 2009, NUC is insisting that no lecturer will be offered appointment if he/she has no Ph.D. I really donít know where these private universities are getting their lecturers. What is happening is that they are picking from federal and state universities and using retired Professors but there is limit to this practice.

When all the old retired Professors are given appointment, where else do they go? The Federal Government and NUC must approach the approval of private universities in this country with caution. They should approve only the number we can carry as of now because of the manpower. The private universities can raise funds to buy equipment and provide building but building and facilities donít make a university. To make a university we need competent lecturers and professors and capable manpower. Except we have all these in place, the programmes of private universities may run into problem in the very near future. I thank God that NUC is on top, the commission is monitoring what is going on in these private universities.

Contentious post-UME screening
The need for post-UME screening came about because the universities were losing confidence with the results coming out of JAMB. Students who scored high in JAMB were found to be doing poorly in the first year. There was no correlation between the UME results obtained by the students and their performance at the low level. And that is why the universities were asking questions which led to the introduction of post UME. If we are going to screen students, it is either they are given short questions and this has to be pooled together, typed and it has to administered, somebody has to mark and grade them.

All these cost money, then who pays? Should the universities bear the cost. Or JAMB should pay part of the admission form charges paid by the students to the universities for the running of the post-UME screening? For the universities, there is no budgetary provision for the post-UME. The Federal Government through the NUC said the institutions did not collect money, what we did is to conduct the test but the students will not have access to the results except they buy scratch card from the banks to check on our website.

So, the students were asked to buy the scratch, so that they can access LAUTECH website to check their admission status. So, we did charge any fees from the students.

SSANU and ASUU ultimatum to FG
If the two unions go on strike, the whole Nigerian university system will be affected. Our plea is that since negotiation has been going on for a while, the Federal Government should wrap up the negotiations in good time and come up with an agreement with the unions, so that the Nigerian university system will not be subjected to another round of disruption of its academic programmes. It is not good for Nigerian university system, for products and image of the country. My appeal to the Federal Government is to reach an agreement with the unions so that the university system will run the 2007/2008 academic session uninterrupted.

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