The Acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission(NUC), Mr. Chris J. Maiyaki, received in audience a team of experts from the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES), Paris, France, led by the Project Manager Europe & International Department (HCERES), Dr. Zakia Mestari, in his office.
The team was in Nigeria to carry out the international accreditation component of the African Centres of Excellence (ACE) Impact Programmes run in the selected Centres in Nigeria, with a visit to those of the Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB) in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and the African Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (ACEFTER) in Benue State University , Makurdi.
Welcoming the team, Mr. Mayaki informed them that NUC remained the home of all universities in the country and started off in the Cabinet Office in 1962 before emerging as full-fledged Government agency by 1974, charged with the responsibility to ensure the orderly development of university education in Nigeria.
He added that The Commission has the mandate to regulate, monitor and lay down Minimum Academic Standards for Nigerian Universities and also responsible for the establishment of new universities in the country.
The Acting ES said curriculum the world over remained very dynamic, especially in matters concerning university education and required constant improvement from time to time.
This reality, he said, necessitated the resolution of the NUC to develop in 2019 a new curriculum that would meet global best practices. Mr. Maiyaki told the delegation that the Commission used the instrument of Resource Verification, through teams of experts in the Nigerian University System (NUS) to verify the human and material resources available for a programme before a programme is mounted in any Nigerian Universities. He said NUC also had the sole responsibility to licence Private Universities and has, as part of its functions, the role of advising government on matters relating to universities in the country.
The Acting Executive Secretary also took the team down the memory lane from the advent of University education in Nigeria, beginning with University of Ibadan (UI) as a University College London, to the establishment of first indigenous University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) and others in 1962 and the University of Benin (UNIBEN) by 1970, regarded as the First Generation universities.
The Second Generation universities, he stated, where seven others established between 1975 and 1980, while more universities have evolved with the emergence of private universities leading to a total of 260 universities as at date and still counting. Mr. Maiyaki disclosed that education was on the concurrent list in Nigeria, which allowed states to own
universities in the country, with some of them like Delta State, owning about four Universities alone.
He said access was a problem with about 2million students jostling for enrollment for about 600,000
spaces yearly, due to universities’ carrying capacities. The Acting Executive Secretary said France constituted one of the top five countries in the world with the best Air-force.
He stated that there were areas France and Nigeria could collaborate for the expansion of the educational horizon, through the establishment of Branch Campus French Universities in the country. He described it as a good omen and necessary for international partners to come and evaluate the ACE programmes in the Nigerian universities in order to determine how well they were being run. Harping on its relevance, he said NUC had continued to serve as the link between the NUS and the
international community, with the Nigerian universities anchoring their framework of actions on the ability to build human capital for the nation. He said the Commission just reengineered its Cross-Border Education Guidelines which had formally opened up the NUS to other educational potentials abroad.
He expressed optimism that the team’s visit would boost and strengthen the NUC’s resolve to entrench
quality in the Nigerian Universities landscape. In her remarks, the team leader, Dr. Zakia said HECRES remained an international renowned body recognized by the academic world and member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education(EQAR).
She said the evaluation process involved experts not only from France, but from other countries of the world.
She said the the team came to Nigeria to accredit the programmes run by the African Centre of Excellence for Neglected Tropical Diseases and Forensic Biotechnology (ACENTDFB) in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and the African Centre of Excellence for Food Technology and Research (ACEFTER) in Benue State University , Makurdi.
She said the team will be looking critically at documents and facilities of the Universities to ensure that they meet the internationally recommended standards of operations. In his remarks, NUC Coordinator Special Projects, Dr. Joshua Atah reminded the meeting that the World Bank had been the sponsor of the ACE projects in the country.
This, according to him, explained why the project was undergoing foreign accreditation, aimed at ascertaining the level of progress and the adherence to set standards. He said many programmes of the Centres were billed for accreditation visit by the team.
In his own remarks, the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES) Academics, NUC, Dr. Noel Biodun Saliu commended the team for embarking on the assignment in the Centres, stating that it would go a long way to compliment what the Commission had been doing internally to maintain quality in the NUS.
Other NUC Directors who made remarks at the meeting also collectively expressed enthusiasm that the NUC’s accreditation process would strengthen the Centres of Excellence and enable them know exactly the expectations of the team.
In the HECRES team were Professor Vasonne Anne; Director, Mr. Donard Oliver; Professor, AMV, Mr. Boutin Oliviere and Project Manager, Hestari Zakia. At the meeting were the Directors of Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Human Resource (DHR), Mr. Boniface Odum; Open Distance and e-Learning (DODel),
Engr. Kayode Odedina; Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi Ahmadu; Acting Directors of Research, Innovations and Information Technology (DRIIT), Mal. Mohammed Farouk Lawal; Inspection and Monitoring (DIM) Mrs. Lydia Imorua; Finance and Accounts (DFA), Mrs. Hauwa Amos; Academic Planning (DAP), Mr. Abubakar Girei and Students (DoS), Ms. Rita Nneka Okonjo.