28TH Annual Conference of the
Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities
Federal University of Technology, Akure
10th - 14th November, 2013
The 28th Annual Conference of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) with the theme, ‘The Nigerian University System and the Challenges and Prospects of Globalization’ was held between 10th and 14th November, 2013 at the new 2500-capacity auditorium of the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
Sixty (60) Vice-Chancellors or their representatives and seventy (70) other officers attended the Conference. The opening ceremony was addressed by His Excellency Dr Olusegun Mimiko, the Executive Governor of Ondo State on the 12th of November, 2013. The keynote paper, “The Nigerian University System and the Challenges and Prospects of Globalization” presented by Professor James A. Momoh, a distinguished professor of Engineering and Director, Centre for Energy Systems and Control, Howard University, Washington DC outlined the activities that will drive Nigerian universities toward globalization. These include increased partnership with world class centres, taking advantage of human and natural resources to produce goods and services for self-employment, local employment, state employment and global employment, and finally, encouraging universities to develop internal strategies for marketing their intellectual properties through patents and copyrights.
Professor Femi Mimiko’s paper, “Globalization and the Imperative of Stability in the Nigerian University System,” dwelt on the challenges being faced by the Nigerian university system and identified issues of commitment to excellence as the critical nexus between globalization and university education in a trans-national context. It identified regulatory, governance, and attitudinal challenges, overall depreciation of scholarship and extremism in union activities as the major causes of instability in the Nigerian university system and therefore advocated broad and well-thought-out reforms to make the higher education system in Nigeria more stable, of higher quality, and more effective in terms of relevance to the national economy and promotion of democratic values. Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs presented 21st century perspectives on the future of Nigerian universities and best practices in advancements and linkages. Professor B. L. Fetuga dwelt on declining educational quality and the low global ranking of Nigerian universities, problems of decreasing government funding and the need for cost sharing and other innovative methods of financing education, as well as strategies for world class universities. There was also a round table discussion that brought together Vice-Chancellors from public and private universities, and employers represented by ICAN, CIBN and NSE. Their discussion focused on ways of enhancing the partnerships between training institutions and their social partners, the employers. Issues raised at the forum also included that of equitable funding of universities to include those funded by private sector operatives, and strategies for cultivating partnership between the industry and universities in order to improve the quality of graduates. They explored what levels and channels to engage with employers and what structure and mechanisms could be used, as well as how to ensure partnerships based on trust and dialogue that offer mutual benefits for all.
The participants noted as follows:
1. Universities do not operate under the same circumstances having been established by various entities but inadequacy of funding by university proprietors is a major cause of declining educational quality in all universities.
2. Proliferation of universities without increased funding will pose challenges to the new public universities.
3 Teaching/learning and research take place in resource-poor contexts therefore making it near impossible for Nigerian universities to measure up in an increasingly competitive global knowledge economy. The availability of infrastructure such as energy and telecommunication is a critical need in Nigerian universities.
4. Universities therefore need to seek innovative sources of financing education outside government and private proprietor funding, such as student loans and scholarships, and private sector contributions.
5. Curriculum review should be regular and industry driven.
6. There is a need for STEM education at all tiers of the Nigerian education system to make room for the development of intellectual capability, creativity and innovation.
7. There is a need to seek innovative and workable solutions to instability in the university occasioned by student and staff union issues. There is a need to put unionism in the right perspective to be responsive and responsible to nation building as it used to be.
8. Funding from the private sector is inadequate because Nigerians do not know how to give to worthy causes. Philanthropy should be encouraged in order to have more advancement in the university system while differentiating between genuine advancement and ‘Cash and Carry Advancement’ that compromises our integrity.
Lastly, the AVCNU received the sad news of the passing on of Prof. Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin, and a past President of ASUU in a ghastly motor accident on the Lokoja-Abuja road with shock and devastation. The conference mourned his loss and prayed for his family, ASUU, University of Benin and indeed the entire NUS to be strengthened with fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
University Registrars met on the side to discuss the themes of the Conference and resolved as follows:
1) Federal Government should increase funding of public universities and extend financial support to private ones;
2) Review Curriculum of Nigerian university education to make it more entrepreneurial and need driven;
3) Vice-Chancellors as Chief Executive Officers should ensure the enforcement of desirable codes of conduct, including dress code;
4) Appointments of members of University Governing Council should be based on integrity and working experience in the university system and not only on political consideration.