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Is UI really celebrating the 600th global ranking?

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University of Ibadan

University of Ibadan

Sir: Writing in The Guardian of November 1, 2016, Sunday Saanu of the Directorate of Public Communications, U.I. showed great excitement and was sounding triumphant that the University of Ibadan is ranked 600th in the league of world ranked universities. You could literally see the glaze in his eyes. Mind you there are glorified high schools which pose as universities and are not ranked at all. I do not know if Saanu is an alumnus of UI. I am and a proud one and that is why I am concerned. I worry also because if Saanu’s write-up is the official position of the University of Ibadan then something has gone fundamentally wrong with the U.I. vision

Permit me to make some observations vis-à-vis Saanu’s release. I can understand U.I.’s feeling comfortable in the Nigerian context for the ranking settles the question of hierarchy in Nigerian universities. U.I. is the only one among the first 1,000.
The others have to fall in line following a pecking order.

When University College of Ibadan(UCI) metamorphosed into University of Ibadan it went along wit all the privileges and responsibilities (worts and all) of London University. Two examples will buttress this point.

Graduates of medicine from University College Hospital (UCH) who went to the UK for fellowship got automatic entry into the programme by passing the qualifying examination called PLAB. This privilege was also extended to graduates of University of Nigeria Nsukka, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Lagos, Ife and later Benin. Due to falling education standards, PLAB exemption has been withdrawn.

By the same measure, graduates of U.I. with either a first class or second class upper degree went right into PhD programmes without the qualifying master’s degree. Again, that is all in the past. How times have changed and all we are left with are nostalgia and good memories of times gone by. All are now tarred with the same brush.

The fact whether we want to admit or operate in a fantasy world is that standards in education in Nigeria have fallen nationwide to unacceptable low.

The Ibadan of the 60s was a truly international community in both faculty and student content. One remembers with gratitude such eminent Professors like Dike, Bevan Taylor, Bassir, Irvine, Grillo, Onwumechili, Oluwasanmi, Ferguson and many others who really committed themselves day and night to giving Ibadan an international passport. Students and lecturers alike drank from that fountain of knowledge (Recte Sapera Fons).

Unfortunately, Ibadan has failed to maintain that excellence in character and learning, otherwise, how can anybody explain to me that 600th position is what we deserve. Research which is the major criterion for university ranking has gone to the back-burner and foreign donors have moved their funds to more serious institutions in South Africa and Egypt.

It is still daylight and the current administrators of Ibadan must broaden their world outlook to attract talents from other parts of Nigeria and also outside Nigeria. Ibadan is not and must not be confined to myopia of being a South-Western Nigerian institution.

Eddie Mbadiwe, Abuja, FCT


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