Continent’s growth tied to funding of African varsities, says Odugbemi
For the continent to break away from the backwaters of underdevelopment, greater attention must be directed at adequate funding of universities, so says former Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Prof. Tolu Odugbemi.
According to Odugbemi, African universities when properly funded, effectively discharge their roles as centres of excellence and innovation, and are rightly positioned to set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for their countries
In a paper titled, “Fundamental Issues in Running a New University in Nigeria,” which he presented at the second matriculation and distinguished lecture of Mountain Top University (MTU), Ogun State, Odugbemi said inadequate funding of varsities has, to a great extent, hindered the progress of science, technology and innovation (STI) on the continent.
He therefore urged African leaders to ensure that universities are well-funded so as to impact profoundly on the quality of higher education delivery, develop a good and well-coordinated research policy to be backed up by local and international research grants.
He said: “Universities are first and foremost communities of scholars and students committed to the search for knowledge in specific areas. They are as centres of excellence and innovations, committed to knowledge generation (research), dissemination (teaching) and application (community service). But Africa is yet to witness meaningful development due to poor funding. The progress of STI on the continent has been hindered to a very large extent by underfunding of universities due to rival claims on public finances.
“Investments in STI are key ingredients for long-term development, and they are critical elements in achieving the objectives of the SDGs in Africa. Private organisations and governments therefore, at both the state and federal levels, must increase their spending in science and technology researches in universities. Top graduates of these institutions must be retained, if Nigeria and indeed Africa is to become competitive in global economy. I desire to see a Nigeria that is in the forefront of scientific and technological achievements.”
He said though God is first in establishing and running a great university, but greater emphasis should be placed on institutional governance, human resources, qualifications, right/correct experience, work ethics, societal connections, student selection, funding, programme quality and ICT infrastructure so as to provide world class teaching and learning.
Founder and Visitor to the institution, Dr. Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, in his remarks said MTU was planned to be a new and positively focused university committed to the training and education of a new generation of Nigerians.
The vice chancellor, Prof. Elijah Adebowale Ayolabi, on his part, counselled the new students to familiarise themselves with the institution’s rules and regulations so as not to run foul of the law.