By Funmi Ogundare
National Universities Commission (NUC), the regulator of the Nigerian University System (NUS), has declared that Fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medicine College of Nigeria (NPMCN) and other fellowships are not an equivalent to Ph.D degree.
The NUC declaration has laid to rest the contentious argument among academic staff and university management that holders of the Fellowship do not need to go for doctorate programme because the Fellowship is an equivalent to Ph.D.
Aside Fellowship of NPMCN, NUC said holders of the West African College of Physicians (WACP) or West African College of Surgeons (WACS) or any other recognised foreign fellowship cannot be equated to Ph.D degree.
The clarification of NUC may not be unconnected with recent argument by professors with fellowship that applied for the post of vice chancellor which one of the requirements is a Ph.D degree.
“One of the issues on the front burner is the postgraduate training for medical academic, which has no clear cut-guidelines for masters and Ph.D programmes in the clinical sciences,” NUC observed.
In a memo to a federal university, NUC informed the management that Ph.D degree has no other degree or certificate equivalent to it.
NUC said: “For the avoidance of doubt, holders of PhD must have gone through Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) and Master of Science (MSc), Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Engineering (M.Eng), or as the case may be in the relevant field.”
In a circular to vice chancellors and the Registrar, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, dated March 3, 2020 and signed by the Director of Academic Planning of NUC, Dr. N.H.Saliu, the commission said it conferred with officials of the NPMCN and other critical stakeholders on the way forward in the delivery of quality medical education in Nigeria.
He said after exhaustive deliberation at series of meetings held between the commission and the management of NPMCN, stakeholders unanimously agreed to introduce Ph.D. programmes in the clinical sciences in the Nigerian University System, for the postgraduate training of interested medical practitioners and for their career progression, especially for those in the academia.
The commission came out with criteria for Ph.D programmes in clinical sciences and it is opened to candidates with full Fellowships of either the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria, the West African College of Physicians (WACP) or the West African College of Surgeon WACS or any other recognised foreign Fellowship.
Recalled that a current vice chancellor in the South-west was not shortlisted by the governing council three years ago because he had fellowship but the advert for the position states professors must possess Ph.D degree.
THISDAY gathered that a recent case in point is the ongoing selection exercise to appoint a new VC for the Lagos State University (LASU). One of the shortlisted and recommended candidate, Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya, does not have Ph.D degree but a fellowship.
Odusanya’s inclusion in the exercise by the Governing Council is generating ripples among academic staff on campus.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), two groups and one staff petitioned Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu over the anomaly.
A professor in LASU said there are glaring contradictions in the argument that seeks to equate the fellowship of the medical college with a Ph.D, arguing “the first has to do with the idea that there is a moratorium from the NUC, which allows those without Ph.D, but who possess the fellowship, to get their Ph.Ds by 2025.”
“If indeed one is equal to the other, there would have been no need for a moratorium. Moratoriums are usually granted to a category of people who need to make up for an obvious deficiency.”
He stressed that from a professional point of view, the fellowship of the medical college eminently qualifies those who possess it to practice as experts in their field and that it is a discipline-specific certification.
“The certification to practice however, is not the same as acquiring basic expertise as a teacher and researcher. For all academics, irrespective of their disciplines, the certification to teach, research, train and mentor other researchers is what a Ph.D confers.”