Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai, Education Minister
By Uche Nnaike with agency reports
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigeria (CVC) said at the weekend that Nigerians spend an average of $500 million annually on European and American universities.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day Consultative Policy Dialogue on the Future and Relevance of the Nigerian Universities and other Tertiary Institutions, organised by CVC and Trust Africa, Dakar.
The communiqué, signed by Prof. Michael Faborode, noted that the amount was about 70 per cent of the total allocation in 2008 to all federal universities.
It said this was an indication of the loss of faith in Nigerian universities as shown by the rush for foreign institutions, even to other African countries.
The committee noted that constant restiveness of students between host communities, school administration, weak governance structures and processes were some of the challenges facing the Nigerian Higher Education sector, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
According to the communiqué, the challenge have contributed to the disruptions of the academic calendar, including the constant bickering between the academic staff union, other staff unions, university management and government.
The vice-chancellors said that this has affected the culture of robust debate and collaborative engagement between government, university management and staff for a common vision and progress.
The committee further admitted that the global ranking of Nigerian universities has nose-dived considerably, adding that there have been growing concerns over the quality of graduates from Nigerian universities.
The committee resolved to restore a culture of consultation, strategic productive engagement, and partnership, collaboration between management and staff of Nigerian higher education institutions.
It also resolved that the nature and dimension of the problems confronting higher (education) institutions in Nigeria would require a new approach to governance.
The communiqué also resolved that the appointment of vice-chancellors must include respect for academic excellence, managerial, leadership capabilities, transparency and accountability.
It said other corrective measures included the non-negative application of the principle of federal character to stem the tide of emerging sectional agitation and clamour for indigenes and other parochial interests.
The committee further resolved that as much as possible, “indigene-ship” should not be critical in the appointment of vice-chancellors, resolving that government must invest in the future of the country by providing adequate resources to enable universities achieve their goals.
The vice-chancellors said that stakeholders and private sectors should be committed to investing in higher education through the sponsorship of research.
The communiqué called for the setting up of an education, research innovation and development council to coordinate the synergy between knowledge, innovation and development in all the sectors of the economy.
It also resolved that government needed to be more cautious in the current trend of establishing and approving of new universities without commensurate increase in the number of teachers.
The vice-chancellors believed that the higher education sector had a critical role to play in forging a sense of nationhood and nation building as well as citizenship.
It also recommended that regular consultative policy dialogue on Nigerian universities and other tertiary institutions should be held biannually.