Written by Godfrey AKON

NUC moves to reform Nigerian universities

As Nigerian universities struggle to meet the nation’s manpower needs, the National Universities Commission, NUC, has commenced efforts towards reforming the system to enhance graduate employability.

Speaking at a workshop on the Proposed Higher Education Reform and African Centres of Excellence jointly organised by NUC and the World Bank in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, said many graduates of Nigerian universities were only tolerated in their areas of employment.

Rasheed, who stressed the need for reform of the entire university system, said a Reform Committee set up by NUC in December 2017 had already turned in a draft report, adding that consultations were ongoing to commence implementation of the goals before 2018 draws to a close.

He said the report of the committee bothers on restructuring of the NUC, an overhaul of the entire gamut of governance structures in the universities, as well as reduction in the incidents of academic corruption such as plagiarism, sexual harassment, bullying and failure to attend lectures among others, by 10 per cent before the end of 2018.

The NUC boss decried inherent problems in the current university system where majority of the institutions find it difficult to release results on time, or issue academic transcripts among other challenges.

“Nigerian universities are often criticised by employers of labour, professional bodies, and individuals for not producing the right graduates; many of our academics stay ten to fifteen years before acquiring their PhDs.

“Many graduates of social sciences from Nigerian universities cannot construct good sentences while many of their engineering counterparts cannot fit into the system after graduation.

“We are seriously committed towards ensuring that the curriculum of Nigerian universities becomes one of the best three in Africa; we have already started consultations to that effect,” he said.

While disclosing that the curriculum reengineering process started last year, he pledged that in the next two years, NUC will come up with a sustainable funding model for public universities.

Speaking on governance in private universities, he said most private universities are not run as academic institutions but as extension of theocracy where there is no accountability, disclosing that petitions are frequently received by academics under the employ of some of the private universities.

Also speaking, the World Bank Education Specialist, Mr Andreas Bloom, said gradual reform and evaluation of higher education was crucial across the countries where the bank had been involved, urging the NUC to adopt a consultative approach to the reforms to avoid strike action.

Bloom also emphasised the importance of data in educational planning and called for assurance of quality in the process of reforms, as well as funding of the system to accelerate implementation of the needed changes.

According to him, the most crucial reforms of tertiary education is the secondary education system to ensure quality of candidates being received into the university system.

He also called for increased institutional autonomy and reduction of political influence in the university system as well as assurance of transparency, accountability, capacity building and good practices.  

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