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UI ex-VC deplores proliferation of varsities

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Idowu Olayinka


The immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Ibadan (UI), Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka, has decried the gale of bills seeking the establishment of new higher institutions in Nigeria, warning that the development might lead to having mushroom universities.

Olayinka, who lamented that members of the National Assembly are triviliasing the establishment of new universities through frivolous private bills, said that every member of the National Assembly wanted to have a university at his or her constituency.

According to him, the situation is the same at the state level. The former VC, in a statement made available to The Guardian in Ibadan, at the weekend, said the whole exercise had been politicised not minding that the existing institutions were not well funded.

He said at the end of the day, the country would have glorified secondary schools that are higher institutions of learning only in name.

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“There is a depressing development going on in the National Assembly. The legislators are trivialising the establishment of new universities through their largely frivolous private bills.

“Every member of the National Assembly wants a federal university, a federal polytechnic and a federal college of education in his or her constituency.

“And since there are 109 senatorial districts and 360 federal constituencies, no one should be surprised if in a few years from now, we end up having some 469 federal universities, 469 polytechnics and 469 colleges of education in the great country.

“It does not really matter whether the existing federal universities are well funded or not. Establishment of these institutions has been heavily politicised while no careful thought is given to their sustainability, especially in terms of funding and quality staffing,” he said.

There is no strategic planning whatsoever, not to talk of higher order thinking before such institutions are decreed into existence.

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“The rash of establishing new tertiary educational institutions is replicated at state levels since education is on the concurrent legislative list. With the gaze on the next election, every state governor wants to site a new university in his or her village.

“At the end of the day, you have glorified secondary schools that are higher institutions of learning only in name.

“To the extent that universities are not-for-profit institutions, they are not businesses. Nonetheless, universities are economic enterprises in-so-far as they need adequate financial resources to survive, thrive and excel in carrying out core mandates of teaching and training, research and uptake,” he said.

He said that poor funding of the existing public universities would signal the death of the schools, adding: “If the existing public universities are poorly funded and there is no political will to positively improve their fortunes, be rest assured that you are catalysing the demise of these institutions.

“Mushrooming of these institutions in our clime can only help the downward slide in quality. The country would be the worse for it in the final analysis. The incessant strike by their members of staff would multiply and make them less competitive in the world of learning.”

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