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Council Chair bemoans low ranking of Nigerian varsities

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and ProChancellor/Chairman of Governing Council of Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Mallam Yusuf Ali, has expressed dismay that no Nigerian university is ranked among the top 500 universities in the latest World University Rankings for 2021.


He said this could only be interpreted to mean that “Nigeria is incompetent” to provide globally accepted degrees that can be presented and used anywhere in the world. Ali disclosed this while delivering the 2021 convocation lecture of the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), which was entitled: “Tertiary Education and the Future of Nigeria.”


Taking a look at the ranking of universities in Africa, the convocation lecturer was particularly miffed that out of 200 top universities, only 25 universities in Nigeria that pride themselves as the ‘Giant of Africa’ made the list, while South African universities dominated the top despite the fact that South Africa ranks very low on the quality of education in the world.


He added: “The first Nigeria university on the list is 42nd position, which is University of Lagos. This was followed by University of Nigeria, Nsukka (43rd); University of Ibadan (51st); Obafemi Awolowo University (66th); University of Port-Harcourt (77th), University of Ilorin (78th); Covenant University (79th); Ahmadu Bello University (95th); Federal University of Technology, Akure (106th) and Rivers State University (125th). “The above ranking, even within our own continent, is nothing to write home about for a country that boasts about intellectual wealth.


What then is responsible for the low quality of university in Nigeria?”


Ali, who noted that the running of tertiary institutions is capital intensive and identified inadequate funding as one of the greatest challenges facing the Nigerian universities, lamented that budget for education across the country is a far cry from the 26 per cent of national budget for the educational sector bench  marked by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).


He, therefore, urged the government to rejuvenate the higher institutions by increasing funding to the education sector, while asking universities to begin to source for funds outside of the government.


Despite the inadequate funding of universities, Ali said there were various areas of waste by the leadership of the universities, which, if well harnessed, could be effectively directed towards the expansion of facilities to accommodate a larger number of students.


The Council chair added: “The existence of several official vehicles, which some institutions brand as project vehicles, but used for private businesses do not augur well for the system. Even when these vehicles are most times used for private activities they are fuelled and maintained by their respective institutions.


This in itself negates the principle of consolidation. The scarce resources available to the universities are not channeled towards research and training, rather the university is involved in all manners of things that are not part of its core mandate.”


The universities, Ali said, should also seek alternative sources of revenue generation to augment what the government allocates to them, adding that apart from the release of funds, there is the dire need for an effective monitoring of the management of funds allocated to the sector.


Besides, he said there was also the need to educate donors and well-meaning members of the society to donate generously towards education funding, even as he noted that the government alone could not meet all the needs  of the education sector.


Ali said: “Education should not just be seen as the responsibility of only the government.


Rather it must be appreciated that the very future of the nation depends on how seriously we address the issue of education, knowledge and innovation because higher education is crucial for national prosperity and progress.


“There is the urgent and dire need for industry to come to the aid of the universities, not only in the areas of direct endowment or establishment of chairs but in active engagement of the universities in terms of commissioned research efforts that will bolster the income of the universities.”


“Also, there is an urgent need to focus on the funding intervention agencies such as TETFund, the NEEDS Assessment and others to rejig the system for better service delivery. There is the need to rework the modalities of these interventions to make them robust, equitable, transparent and goal getting.”

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