The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, mni, MFR, FNAL, received a technical delegation from the International University Grand-Bassam (IUGB) Cote D’Ivoire, last week in his office. The delegation came to, among other issues, seek for recognition and integration of its graduates, especially those of Nigerian descent into the Nigerian employment and higher education system, upon completion of their studies in that institution.  

Receiving the delegation on behalf of the Executive Secretary, Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Mr. Chris Maiyaki, apologized for his absence due to pressing national assignment outside the country. He expressed delight that the meeting which had suffered hitches earlier was now happening following its facilitation by the Nigerian Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire, Mr. Martin Adamu.  

He informed the team that NUC had grown as a flagship and regulatory agency for university education in Nigeria responsible for the orderly development of the Nigerian University System (NUS). He gave a rundown of the emergence of the Commission in 1962, which started, after the establishment of the Premier University of Ibadan in 1948 (then University College London), and four other universities, namely University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) 1960, modeled from the Michigan State University, USA; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (then University of Ife) and the University of Lagos, (all in 1962).  

He highlighted that with barely five as at 1962, the Nigerian Universities had progressively increased to 201 as at date and more private ones were still being processed at the moment.  He stated that the Commission came into existence as a statutory agency in 1974 and had been working conscientiously to maintain Minimum Academic Standards by assuring quality in Nigeria universities. It had been doing so through the conduct of regular accreditation of programmes and use of other instruments and giving approval to new programmes and licencing new universities.

According to him, the reason for the increasing number of universities was to bridge the gap between demand and supply occasioned by population of students seeking admission which was about 2 million yearly or annually vying for limited access of less than a million spaces.  He recounted that during the visit of The Gambian delegation, the NUC was informed that the entire population in that country was about 2million, which was far below FCT alone, stressing that this had continued to pose a challenge to students whose penchant for university education had made many to seek it elsewhere.    

The NUC, he said, had recently embarked upon re-engineering of Universities curriculum to bring it at par with international best practices and had established some new Directorates in recent times like those of Students and Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, to continue to reposition the Commission to meet the demands of the present times. He also told the team that the NUC would soon finalise its guidelines on the Open Distance and e-learning as well as trans-national education framework to facilitate internationalisation of education and adaptation of dual mode in instructional delivery.   

He noted that the adoption of the USA model by the International University Grand-Bassam,was a testament to a globalized world and internationalization process on-going which had remained important in university education. He assured the university that NUC was not in doubt of its status as a government-regulated institution in Cote D’Ivoire based on International treaties, conventions and statutes and the Arusha Convention on recognition and qualifications framework. 

He, however, pointed out that only accreditation guaranteed and make university a brand, explaining that it was the definite sanctions against unaccredited programmes in the NUS that make NUC so unique.  He called on the President of the University who also was a former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Reforms to use his goodwill to avail the NUC, through the Embassy of Cote’ d’Ivoire in Nigeria and the Nigerian Embassy in their homeland of details of all approved universities for the purpose of due recognition and qualifications.   

Harping on the request for NUC’s visit of the University to see firsthand the workings of the university management and their mode of education delivery, the Deputy Executive Secretary promised that it would be discussed at the management level, with a bid to constitute a team of relevant Directorates to visit the University in Cote D’Ivoire.   

In his remarks, the President of the University, Prof. Saliu Toure said the University was established in 2005 by Presidential Decree to award Certificates, B.Sc, M.Sc and PhDs, after reforms carried out by his country in its higher education and areas of scientific research.  The Institution had affiliation with Georgia State University Atlanta, USA and the government of Cote- D’Ivoire decided that the institution would work and teach in English. Since its commencement, he noted that the university had trained about 3,000 students with a system of 2+2- which translated to students spending two years at home and the remaining two in Georgia State University, using joint certification. But recently, the University started awarding its own Bachelor’s degree

The President further explained that they follow American standards of higher education and was the reason for the infusion of English Language to the teaching mode due to its importance. He highlighted that the institution had grown with the commencement of postgraduate programmes which they began with eight students and currently had about 165 students. The university, according to him, had partnerships with the University of Alabama, Arkansas State University, University of Minnesota, among others.

He added that the institution currently has two Schools of Business and Social Sciences as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and attract faculty from Georgia State University that teach the students through the online system. He pointed out that the university had been adopting the online mode along with the face-to-face which made it easier for it to adapt well during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told the Executive Secretary that the University needed a partnership and support of the NUC so that its Nigerian students would be recognized in the country, not only for the purpose of NYSC but for employability, as its students were doing well everywhere they go.

While elaborating on the same points enunciated by the President of the University, its Vice-President for Academic Affairs, Prof. Ahmed Legrouri, particularly said the University placed high premium on its accreditation process like the NUC, which however did not foreclose learning from the commission as big brother in the region. He used the forum to employ the NUC to pay a facility visit to the University to see for itself the human/ material resources which the institution had deployed to serve its students as it pride itself as the “West African University opened to the world”.

He informed the meeting that his country will be hosting the Bi-national Commission meeting of Cote D’Ivoire with Nigeria on areas of Education and Environment and expressed the hope that some of the salient issues that required political will would be tidied up at the meeting with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). 

Others in the delegation were Vice-President, Coordinating Operations Office (COO), Mr. Samuel Koffi; First Counsellor, Embassy of Cote D’Ivoire, Mr. Cisse Karim; Director of Linkages with Industries, Ms. Belkisssa Doumbia; Recruitment Coordinator, Mrs. Alhalie Kouakou Kone and IUGB Alumni of Nigerian descent, Mr. Ramadhan Abiodun Adedokun.  At the meeting were the Directors of: Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Open Distance and e-learning (DODE), Engr. Kayode Odedina; Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John Mairafi. Others were the Acting Directors of Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs. Lydia Imorua and Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Mal. Ashafa Ladan.