The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Chris J. Maiyaki, last Tuesday, received in audience a delegation from the French Embassy led by the Head of Cooperation and Culture Affairs/Director at the French Institute of Nigeria, Mr. Judikael Regnaut, in his office.
Receiving the delegation, Mr. Maiyaki gave a brief history of the establishment of the NUC, which began as an advisory agency within the Cabinet Office in 1962 and later evolved into a statutory agency by 1974, with a clear mandate to oversee the orderly development of university education in Nigeria.
He further highlighted the functions of the Commission to include: establishing minimum academic standards for all universities and degree-awarding institutions in Nigeria; approving courses and programmes;conducting accreditation of academic programs; monitoring universities; recognising State Universities, and providing guidelines for processing applications to establish private universities.
He explained that Nigerian universities faced immense demographic pressure, with a population of over 200 million people and the challenges they encountered in meeting the educational needs of a rapidly growing population.
The Acting ES informed the delegation on recent developments at the NUC such as the launch of the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academics Standards (CCMAS) and review of the NUC Guidelines on Transnational Education (TNE).
According to him, the essence of these guidelines was to facilitate foreign investment in Nigeria’s higher education sector, through six competitive models outlined in the TNE policy, aimed at delivering high-quality and reliable higher education services.
Mr. Maiyaki underscored the timeliness of the visit at a time when Nigeria was desirous of strengthening its ties with France and acknowledged the longstanding relationship enjoyed by NUC with the French Embassy.
He reiterated the Commission’s readiness to expand its partnership with France for a mutually beneficial projects that would contribute to and enhance higher education in Nigeria.
Responding to issues raised by the team, the Acting Executive Secretary expressed profound appreciation to the French Embassy delegation for their continued effort to strengthen their ties with Nigeria.
He emphasised that Nigeria’s educational landscape required capacity building not only for academic professionals but also for administrative personnel, non-teaching staff, and students.
Mr. Maiyaki also underscored the pressing need for additional scholarships to support Nigerian students in their pursuit of higher education.
He used the forum to convey the NUC’s keen interest in establishing partnerships with France in various areas that could further enhance and deepen their relationship, all with the overarching goal of elevating the standards of higher education in Nigeria.
Earlier, in his remarks, Mr. Regnaut had expressed gratitude to the Acting Executive Secretary for the warm reception extended to the delegation.
He informed Mr. Maiyaki of the French Embassy’s enthusiasm and strong desire to strengthen their relationship with Nigeria, particularly through education, with the aim of deepening educational cooperation by actively supporting the training of teachers in Nigeria and fostering networks through the French language.
Also in her remarks, the Cooperation Attaché for French Language, Ms. Magaly Losange gave a vivid detail about the French Embassy’s recently launched two-year FSPI (Fund for Solidarity and Innovative Project).
The project, according to her, which could be promoted at the national or regional level, was designed to enhance the skills of French teachers, and elevate students’ proficiency in the French language in Nigeria.
Ms. Losange highlighted the significant advantages of studying abroad, while underscoring its potential for young Nigerians, given the country’s proximity to French-speaking neighbours.
She added that they were proposing to commence short educational programmes in Nigeria that would allow students to master and practice French language.
In the French delegation was the Policy-Officer in charge of Nigeria, Benin and Ghana, Mr. Lucas Bengaouer.
At the meeting were NUC Director, Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi Ahmadu; Deputy Director in the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES) Administration’s Office, Ms. Chinyere Ekechukwu and the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Kabiru Bala.