Nigeria Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has called on members of Academic Staff Unions of Universities (ASUU) and other institutions to begin a responsive and all inclusive conversation on funding of university education.
Osinbajo made the call in Abuja, while declaring open the 60th anniversary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and launch of the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) for Nigerian Universities.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, Osinbajo said that Nigeria had lost over 50 months to strikes between 1999 till date, while saying that funding and university’s autonomy were two major reasons behind incessant industrial actions by members of ASUU and other Institutions.
While restating the place of the commission as the sole regulator of universities across the country, Osinbajo explained that professional bodies were to regulate professional practices.
“In spite of the challenges faced by our universities, Nigerian graduates are highly valued and sort after globally, this is a testimony to global recognition of the quality of training in our universities.
“I therefore salute the courage and hard work of successive management and staff of NUC for their contribution to the growth of the commission.
“One of the major issues bedeviling university is the incessantly strike actions by various unions. The universities has lost over 50 months from 1999 till date as a result of strike actions,” he said
He, therefore, called on the ministry of education to lead other relevant stakeholders to align with the framework of the commission with professional bodies for the goal of the system.
He said that the CCMAS launch was in collaboration with other professional regulatory bodies which goes to show the harmony could be achieved in the various quality assurance efforts.
“I applaud the NUC and all stakeholders especially the academic experts, the private sectors and other relevant professional bodies that worked painstakingly to bring the curriculum to a successful completion.
“This document has truly taken cognisance of the need to provide greater academic autonomy to universities with regards to development of some percentage of course content.
“I commend the commission of this decision to share the minimum credit unit required for graduation in the Nigerian university in the ratio of 70 to 30 per cent. This will further create institutional peculiarity,” he said.
He further applauded the foresight of other disciplines like agriculture and the emergence of three new disciplines in the Nigerian university system such as allied health sciences, architecture and communication and media studies.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, commended the role the commission played in the establishment of over 220 universities comprising 50 federal universities representing 22.72 per cent, 59 state universities representing 26.8 per cent and 111 representing 50.45 as private universities.
Adamu, who was represented by the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, said the commission was empowered to ensure the development of university education for the production of quality programmes relevant to national development.
Also, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said that the commission was faced with challenges but was however surmounted.
Rasheed said that the recent time high ranking of universities that featured 48 universities was a testament of the impact of the work done by the commission.
He, therefore, said that entrenching university ranking would further encourage international visibility as key to trans-educational agenda.
Meanwhile, the UK Government International Educator, Prof. Steve Smith called for professional skills education, saying the global demand was changing to skills to sustain high quality employment.
According to him, skill training has direct impact on sustainable growth, hence must be giving prominence.
Also, Mr Sunny Echono, the Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), called on tertiary institutions to devise initiative to guarantee the future of tertiary education, saying this lied in sustainable funding.