The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) has lamented that inadequate funding remains one of the major challenges militating against the effective growth and global ranking of public universities in Nigeria.
The Committee has, however, commended the Federal Government for approving the exemption of universities and other tertiary institutions from the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) payment platform, saying this would allow universities to now breathe fresh air from the suffocating experience under IPPIS.
Secretary-General of CVCNU, Professor Yakubu Ochefu, spoke last Thursday in Abuja at a one-day workshop for Advancement and Alumni Officers with the theme: Institutional Advancement, Alumni Relations, and University Education in Nigeria, organised by CVCNU in collaboration with the Conference of Alumni Association of Nigerian Universities (CAANU).
Speaking on the difficulties being faced by public universities in Nigeria as a result of inadequate funding, Professor Ochefu said there was a need for cost-sharing based on what is required to train a student in the university.
He disclosed that the Committee was able to come up with figures about what is required to train a student in a university, including public universities, but noted that there are still gaps in the cost-sharing ratio between the government and the individual student.
He said, “To train one medical student in a university costs about N5 million; even in a public university, it costs about N5 million. So what is the cost-sharing ratio between the government and individuals in public universities?
“So if the government wants to take responsibility for the training of a student, it should pay the N5 million so the university can use it to run its operations. You cannot give the Vice-Chancellor N3 million and say go and manage.
“So the quality of what you put in, just like the proverbial ‘better soup na money kill am’ is what we are talking about. And we see it happening right before our own eyes,” he said.
Professor Ochefu, however, admitted that the government alone could not fund education, adding that the workshop was organised as part of efforts to harness the potential of alumni associations of various institutions across the country as well as non-university organisations or individuals as a huge alternative source of funding for Nigerian universities.
He said: “At the level of the committee of vice-chancellors, we discussed various challenges that are facing the Nigerian university system, and we realised very quickly that our relations with persons or institutions that are not within our ecosystem are not as strong as they should be.
“The type of strategic partnerships that we have with industry, the type of strategic partnerships we have with foreign organisations, at the donor level, and others are not as strong as they should be.
“Even though we have these offices in place, many of them are not calibrated to work together to deliver what we refer to as global best practice in terms of how universities can benefit from relationships with non-university persons,” he said.
Professor Ochefu said the CVCNU, in partnership with CAAN, therefore decided to bring some specialists to come and share insights about what is needed to be done to leverage the potential of alumni and other non-university persons for enhanced development of the university system in Nigeria.
Speaking on the exemption granted to universities and other tertiary institutions from enrolment on the IPPIS platform, the Secretary-General of CVC said coercing tertiary institutions into IPPIS had greatly stifled the smooth running of the institutions, giving the dynamic and fluidity of operations to universities.
“So this is a major development for us in the university system, and we applaud the minister for being able to convince the Federal Executive Council of our cry and then getting them to agree to remove that. This will breathe fresh air into the university system,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor of Joseph S. Tarka University (JOSTU), Makurdi, Professor Isaac Itodo, who was the Chairman of the occasion and immediate past Vice-Chairman of CAANU, said the workshop was organised not only to interrogate the roles of Alumni Association desk officers but to redefine their roles for positive delivery.
He noted that the time has come to revisit the activities of alumni associations because they are major stakeholders in every institution and there is a need to get them to take ownership of their respective institutions.
The Conference was attended by some Vice-Chancellors of the universities, while a few others were represented by their Deputy Vice-Chancellors.