The Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) has chided the Minister of Education Mallam Adamu Adamu for not consulting widely with stakeholders before banning the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Its Secretary-General, Prof Michael Faborode, said the Minister’s pronouncement did not take away a University’s right to select its students as the law empowers its Senate to screen applicants before admission. Faborode was the guest speaker at the 11th convocation lecture of Covenant University (CU) Ota, Ogun State. He spoke on: “Benchmarking the quality and relevance of Higher Education for National Development” at the CU chapel last Thursday.
He said: “AVCNU does not feel that we should make a public pronouncement (on the minister’s directive). Remember, when the minister made that, he also said there would be clarification on how the screening would be done.
“But for us, the issue is very clear. Remember, Post-UTME came out of necessity because at the time, the level of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam was seriously questioned. It is true that things have improved to some extent; but I feel it (minister’s decision) should have been more consultative and we would have conducted studies to verify the present situation like we did when we started post-UTME.
“But why we feel there was no need for outcry is that the fundamental right of universities to conduct screening cannot be taken away. The Senate of every university must screen whoever comes into the university and must guarantee the quality of certificate they are awarding. These are fundamental tasks that still remain and have not been threatened.”
Speaking on how universities in Africa can up their ranking globally, Faborode, a former vice-chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife (OAU), urged them to collaborate.
“The time has come for African universities to create global academy of commons – a global community of scholars, who although responsive to the local and national needs of our society, nevertheless transcend national polities to practice a ‘science’ that produces collective knowledge for the human community.
“Such a system would allow our universities to develop to imbibe the corpus of scientific knowledge, apply it to our context, re-imagine and innovate it, and contribute it back to the global economy. It will also allow us to produce graduates who are simultaneously African; citizens of both nation and the world.”
Faborode who also lamented that underfunding has been a major factor for stunted growth of universities in Africa, called authorities to up their investment at the tertiary level. “To bridge the knowledge gap and close the global development, Nigeria especially, must increase the level of their investment in funding higher education, as well as embrace bold initiative for diversified funding by other stakeholders.
“One of such is to mobilise resources from the private financial sector with government collateral support and loans. A necessary corollary is the adequate provision of scholarship and bursaries to brilliant and indigent students to remove inequity. The universities too need to accentuate their internal revenue generation through entrepreneurial and commercial engagement, applied research output, endowment and philanthropy etc.”