Isaac Rotimi Ajayi, a professor of Physics is the Vice Chancellor of Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State. He spoke to Raheem Akingbolu about deficiencies in the nation’s business education and the need for stakeholders to to bridge the gap
How has the experience been for Crawford as a private institution?
Crawford University was an intervention in the education landscape to be a model university where students can be trained not just in the academic knowledge alone, but also to give a kind of balanced education that will enable the students to become good citizens of the country. In other words, what we do here is to offer balanced education both in academic discipline and godliness so that the products can be well rounded, fit into the society and be positive citizens. We allow our students to develop on all fronts: talk of academic development, social, cultural and spiritual development. These are areas we develop our students in.
Entrepreneurship is core in the curriculum of many institutions. Does Crawford include this in its programme?
Entrepreneurship is part of the programme we emphasis here. Every student that passes through this university must graduate with at least three certificates; the degree certificate, ICT certificate and vocational certificate from any field of their choice. We have centre for entrepreneurship vocation where every student takes a particular vocation, trained in that vocation and be certificated in it. The students also compulsorily take training in ICT and graduate with a certificate in ICT resource.
Do they run concurrently?
They run concurrently and the idea is that you have a vocational skill before you leave the system. We have observed closely the need to develop the human capacity in Nigeria, especially the career executive managers, emerging entrepreneurs, top industry leaders and decision makers.
The university’s advertisement for MBA is currently running. What new thing is the school bringing into the table in the area of business education?
The MBA programme is born out of the desire to fill the human capacity gap that we have identified in the industries generally. There’s lack of some capacities especially in the area of management that we have noticed. Therefore, our MBA programme is designed to bridge that. We started the MBA programme three years ago and have gotten the approval of the National Universities Commission, NUC, to run it. Crawford MBA is designed to be a model in Africa in term of learning approach, capacity development, teaching, ambience and products.
We believe that a lot of top managers and young entrepreneurs and industry leaders would need good training in business administration to help them do well in their businesses. This is so because the purpose of the MBA is to develop capacity for top industry leaders, executive managers in industries and government to acquire the proper skill that would help them in their industries.
Who are the targets? Are there places for starters and self employed?
The target people for the programme are university graduates, polytechnic graduates, professional graduates, emerging entrepreneurs and executive business owners. For the people we call emerging entrepreneurs, the training would assist them to do well in their businesses.
You are operating in a competitive environment. How prepared is the school in the area of provision of modern facilities?
We recognise that there is competition but we have provided model facilities that we believe would help us to run the programme and we are continuously expanding the facilities. Before now, we have a postgraduate school and other programmes running; just that we are placing emphasis on this MBA programme this time because we are strengthening and expanding it. We are involving some foreign experts, foreign faculties and other stakeholders to be part of it. For an MBA, of course an applicant must have gotten the first degree; a good one. Polytechnic graduates are also welcome; they are eligible. Industry people with experience are also welcome. And the idea is that we are delivering a programme that would impact the necessary skills for solving problems. We are emphasising the aspect of solving problems with skills that would make our graduates solve societal and industry problems. That is why we are involving these foreign partners, so it’s not just going to be a local training; it’s going to be world class.
Which countries are these foreign partners coming from?
Some of them would come from the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa. They don’t necessarily have to come here, they can deliver lectures through the use of technology like Skype and other online platforms, but they would be part for the programme to make it very robust.
Which means as a student I can be in the comfort of my home and still be part of a lecture?
Not exactly. But the whole programme is going to be made flexible. You can always adjust your time and the programme to suit your schedule.
Is the school considering having a centre outside?
No centre outside the University; but it would be such that is flexible and accommodate the schedule of students.
To acquire MBA programme of some schools, one may need a bank loan; how affordable is the fee at Crawford?
We believe the cost is affordable but one thing we must be concerned about is the quality of what we are bringing to the table. Take for instance, our students have been performing wonderfully well within and outside the country because of the training they get here. Crawford University is in Nigeria, but through our products, we have been making exploits and imprint in different parts of the world. For instance, a lot of our products are doing well in the UK and US. Even our undergraduates have been bringing a lot of laurels to the university. The latest one was our exploit at the Nigerian Economic Student Association, where a student of this university won the first prize in the competition for the association. Then in 2014, we were the winner of African Regional Inter-University Debate organised by UNESCO. Our products have been doing well and it attests to the fact that this university actually impacted sound academic training in them.