The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Mr. Chris J Maiyaki, last Tuesday received in audience a delegation from the German Parliament led by  the Chairman, Committee for Education, Research and Technology Assessment, His Excellency, Mr Kai Gehring, in his office.

The purpose of the visit was to conduct a selection interview for eligible Nigerian students for the International Parliamentary Scholarship (IPS) and to hold international sessions about the programme at various universities. 

In his remarks, the German Parliamentarian said the IPS programme was aimed at providing young individuals from different countries with the opportunity to participate in an intern-ship at the German Parliament and learn about the German political system. Harping on the status of Germany in the comity of nation, he said, his country had been a trail blazer in the aspect of skilled labour, technology development and entrepreneurship. He added that Germany had done well for its citizens and currently served as the engine room for Europe’s economy. 

He said it was fascinating to hear of the wide range of achievements  recorded in the Nigerian University System (NUS), describing it as an honour to be in Nigeria, as both countries have rich things to share in common. Explaining further, Mr. Gehring stated that Nigeria remained the economically most strongest and vibrant country in Africa while Germany too was the strongest in the Europe.

Mr. Gehring said the Germans also face similar challenges in the areas of skilled labour, climate change, research, and health research. He stated that the only difference between the two countries is that Germany is democratically older than Nigeria. He said, gender equality and internationalization were some issues the country had been dealing with.

While further drawing comparisons,  Mr. Gehring stressed that Nigeria comprised of  36 states, while Germany had 60, highlighting that one of the milestones in German educational sector was the nation’s investment of 35billion Euros in student placements.

He said, Germany and Nigeria had a total of 32 university collaborations with over 4,000 Nigerian students studying in Germany, while the services offered to international students were free and the support for international programmes were also recently increased. Mr. Gehring that the exchange between both countries should be intensified in the areas of skilled labour, science, research, and health research. He said the programme has been designed to facilitate collaborations, and addresses common challenges between countries.

He said, for eligibility to become one of the selected beneficiaries, students needed a degree and should be below 30yrs, as well as ability to speak and write German. He informed the Acting Executive Secretary that Nigeria was top among the countries selected for the programme this year and urged the NUC not to hesitate to share advice and information on any university student suitable for the programme.

Responding, Mr Maiyaki, who gave a brief overview of the evolution of university education in Nigeria, noted that the country’s journey started with the University of Ibadan (UI), then as a University College, London established in 1948, with others subsequently coming on board, and  today, with a total of 273 universities, comprising 62 Federal, 63 state and 148 private universities.

He said the yearning for university education had continued to increase with a yearly enrolment of 2milllion applicants, while the country could only accommodate  about 500,000 to 700,000 students yearly.

The Acting Executive Secretary told the delegation that the NUC was empowered to establish private universities,  lay down minimum Academic Standards. Pointing out that for any private university to be licensed it must go through a 14-step process.

He informed the visitors that  their visit was timely, just at the time of widespread call for repositioning of Nigerian universities and increase of access to university education, that led the Commission to the launch of the Transnational Education (TNE)  guidelines, as well as the production of a new curriculum for Nigerian University System (NUS) to meet evolving global trends, through a team of experts and stakeholders of the academia assembled together which was supervised by the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES) Academics,  Dr. Noel Biodun Saliu.

Mr. Mayaki thanked Mr. Gehring for his very elaborate speech that dwelt on salient and topical issues that bothered on research, climate change, skilled labour education.  He acknowledged that the budgeting of 35billion Euros on education alone  by the German Government showed its level of commitment to the sector, stating that Nigeria had a lot to learn and tap from Germany. He said, Nigeria has a programme geared towards enhancing gender equality, as  many women were in the  higher education system, explaining that contribution of women was very pivotal in the country’s development.

He informed the team that Nigeria had about 20 research institutes and that the NUC had the mandate to guide the delegation on its decision-making to ensure the programme got to the appropriate constituents.

The NUC scribe asserted that the Commission had remained a very veritable gateway of channelling scholarship schemes, recalling that it served as the Secretariat of the past Presidential Special Scholarship Scheme during the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR.

He noted that Germany had invested adequately in its manpower, while functioning as a welfare state and thanked the German government for the scholarship schemes which Nigerians had already benefited, but pleaded for more opportunities for the teeming Nigerian youths. 

In a vote of thanks, the DES, Academics, Dr. Noel Saliu appreciated  the delegation for the visit and wished for more fruitful collaborations between the two countries in the coming years.

In the German delegation were: Ms. Nina Rehman; Ms Renate Lydia Wolf and Head of Political Embassy of Germany, Mr. Matthias Dold as well as Ms. Uduak-Abasi Akpabio.  

At the meeting were the NUC Acting Directors of: Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE), Mal. Ashafa Ladan;  Inspection and Monitoring (DIM) Mrs. Lydia Imoroa; Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Barr Samuel Adejoh; Research, Innovations and Information Technology (DRIIT), represented by Dr. Dauda Bashir ; Finance and Accounts (DFA), Mrs. Hauwa Amos;  Human Resources (DHR), Mrs. Victoria Omorodion; Students (DOS), Ms. Rita Okonjo;  Accreditation (DA), Engr. Abraham Chundusu; , Academic Planning (DAP), Mr. Abubakar Muhammad Girei; as well as Deputy Directors of Information in the Directorate of Public Affairs, Ms. Offiong U Edor and Deputy Director, Corporate Services in the Directorate of Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. Adewale Bakare.