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Knocks over NUC’s alleged poor supervision of private varsities



They Compromise Recruitment Standards, Say Academics
Against the backdrop of the proliferation of private universities in the country, some eminent scholars have accused the National Universities Commission (NUC) of poor supervision of the institutions to foster best academic standards.

Many of the scholars who spoke on the issue said private institutions in the country were not established with noble intentions, urging the NUC to be more circumspect in granting further licenses.

It would be recalled that the NUC recently disclosed that it was considering over 300 applications by some individuals and organisations to operate private universities in the country.

Meanwhile, according to the Commission, Nigeria currently has 79 private universities, 48 state universities and 43 federal universities, bringing the total number of universities in the country to 170.

Former Vice Chancellor, Caleb University, Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, accused private universities of lowering the standards in the recruitment of key workforce. “I dare say that many private universities are lowering standards when it comes to appointment of professors, even critical staffs like registrar, bursar or vice chancellor,” he said.

Olukoju also alleged that because private institutions were eager to meet the NUC requirements of a professor, two senior lecturers and three other lecturers to start with, they hire all manner of people. This practice, he stated, would certainly compromise the standards. He noted further that the problem of competent requisite academic staff is a major challenge confronting private universities.

“Even when they have staff, they promote them too quickly. For example, because you have so many private universities, a young man can have PhD today and becomes Lecturer Two next year. Now, he goes to another university and because he has written three papers becomes Lecturer One; two years from now, he becomes a senior lecturer in another university and the next two years, he becomes a professor. What sort of a professor is that? What experience has he acquired in life?” Olukoju queried.

The University of Ibadan branch Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Deji Omole, on his part, stated that inadequate manpower and poor infrastructure were the hallmarks of private universities in the country.
He said: “We have made it known long before now at the level of the union and even at personal level. Those of us who are even in first generation universities and others are grossly understaffed. We don’t have enough manpower to cater for the population of students, and the Federal Government is busy licensing more private universities. Who are those that would be working in these universities? This in effect is lowering the standard.

“If you pick a copy of the NEEDS assessment documents of 2012, you will see that the deficit in terms of academic staff is close to 70 per cent. You can imagine the number of universities that have been licensed since then. Even as at that time, the newly-created federal universities were not in existence. What we have just realised is that government is behaving as if we no longer have the Ministry of Planning in this country. University is not like establishing a pure water factory; it is what you should plan for.”

Former Minister of Education, Chinwe Obaji, acknowledged the need for private intervention in catering for the educational needs of young Nigerians. She, however, detests individuals owning universities. “For me, institutions should own the university so that we can guarantee their sustainability when the owners are not there. How many businesses in Nigeria today have been able to go to the second generation? What happens if they are no more tomorrow? Who takes over? Obaji queried.

To former Vice-Chancellor, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Prof Liadi Tella, “NUC needs to be alive to its responsibility. Most times, you see that these private institutions do not even meet the standard; they are just like glorified secondary schools.”

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