NUC British Council collaborate on TNE
The British Council (BC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate with the National Universities Commission (NUC) on Transnational Education (TNE) which details involved forging international partnership with Nigerian Universities, with the aim of boosting Nigeria’s  Cross-Border Higher Education (CBHE) guidelines and programmes.
The agreement was reached after a Roundtable Meeting with a UK-government high-level delegation  and the NUC team led by the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed mni, MFR, FNAL held on Monday 16th May, 2022 at the NUC Boardroom.
The visit served as a platform for stakeholders to explore opportunities for a mutually beneficial higher education partnerships between the UK and Nigerian universities, in the best interest of the collaborating parties.
At the signing ceremony with the delegation, Professor Rasheed,  said that the collaboration would boost TNE, while the Commission would open up discussion on proper training towards developing online digital education component that would boost the nation’s education sector.
Prof. Rasheed said that the NUC was committed to enhancing access to university education via the Open, Distance and e-learning (ODL) mode. He added that the Commission being the sole regulatory agency for university education in Nigeria would continue to ensure that the standard and quality of education delivered through the ODL, e-learning and TNE were not compromised. This, he stressed, would be carried out through periodic review of the curriculum, quality assurance frameworks  and policies instruments.
The NUC Scribe further stated that the Commission was well disposed to the opening up of the Nigerian space in order to align it with the realities of the 21st century and global best practices as it related to TNE. He informed the visitors that 2.147 million students were enrolled in the universities in Nigeria at the end of 2021, representing 1.1 per cent of the total population of the country, hence the need for more access to university education in Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary berated the criticisms from some quarters on the establishment of new universities on grounds that the university system kept producing graduates without the requisite skills for the 21st century. He stressed that to ensure that this challenge was addressed, the Commission had in the last four years developed a strategic plan document for the revitalisation of the Nigerian University System( NUS), with curriculum re-engineering as a major component. Towards this end, the Commission assembled more than a thousand excellent indigenous academics and also received inputs from international curriculum expert leading to infusion of new ideas based on the international best standards.
Prof. Rasheed stated that the Commission would continue to support female academics to rise to the highest ranking in the university, noting that the number of female Vice-Chancellors in Nigeria had increased in recent times compared to previous experience. He added that same support would be extended to female students across all the university proprietorships whether Federal, State and Private universities, to encourage girls education in Nigeria.
Prof Rasheed  thanked the Vice Chancellors and their representatives for honouring the Commission’s invitation to attend the discussion despite short notice.
He said, the NUC has over the years enjoyed a cordial working relationship with the British Council and it has been a pleasure co-working with the British government to improve the Nigerian University System(NUS).
The ES told the team that, the Vice Chancellors that were invited to the meeting had been carefully selected to include all the categories of universities in Nigeria being that each has their own peculiarities.
Though, effort is being made, by the NUC to establish more universities to tackle the issue of access, the public remains critical of the sector because of factors like funding, unemployment, gender balancing, security and now the ASUU strike. 
Responding, the leader of the delegation, Sir Steve Smith said that the UK government was interested in the long plan mode of TNE which, according to him,  would help not only Nigeria but also other African countries to mitigate the effects of post Covid-19 events and happenings.
He added that their mission on the agreement was to have a sustainable partnership, work-togetherness and indeed an all inclusive collaboration with the NUC.
Sir Smith further said that the TNE would afford NUC and the NUS ample opportunities to gain more experiences from the leading UK institutions and reputable universities.
He further explained that the British Council was committed to long term investment in the education sector in Nigeria, and such determination was to ensure its continued growth. He pointed out that the relationship between the UK and Nigeria had remained very important and age-long with tremendous bilateral achievements and successes, explaining  that the most important one was  investment in education.
The leader of the delegation further explained that the works of the British Council had connected students, teachers and academics in Nigeria and the UK, adding that it had also opened access to international education and knowledge to expertise, and other study opportunities for young Nigerians. He further sated that the concept of TNE signed upon would help to internationalise education in Nigeria and UK, both for the benefit of young Nigerians and young British people.
Highlighting the opportunities for CBHE partnership in Nigeria, the Chief Executive of British Council, Mc Donald, commended the NUC for its support and for growing collaborations with the British Council in Nigeria over the past years.
He explained that the collaboration was a testimony of the joint aspiration of NUC and British Council to ensure that TNE bridge the existing gap between the traditional theory and innovations of the 21st Century, in the best interest of both students and academics in Nigeria and UK.
Steve Smith, the British envoy praised the Commission for always keeping its doors open for dialogue and willingly engaging with the British Council. He said, the British government is very excited about the proposal and they are focusing solely on five countries India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. The issues or peculiarities listed by the ES are also issues faced in the UK.
He continued that the move to digital offers incredible opportunities for the future .
TNE he explained is the most impactful method of both countries working together, whereby the UK can attract foreign students without taking away the manpower from Nigeria. He said they had taken notice of the terms in the TNE guidelines provided by the NUC and it offers a deeper, richer, more sustainable, win win situation for both parties.
The TNE offers a chance for the leading British Institutions to partner with Universities across Nigeria and gives equal opportunities to all no matter their economic background.
Notable amongst the responses by the Vice Chancellors (VC) was Professor Tanko Ishaya of University of Jos who commended the Executive Secretary (NUC) for being a trail blazer, explaining that he had proposed Transnational Education but at the time there was no blueprint and no regulation for it.
Other VC’s who joined voices in thanking the NUC said they were excited to explore the possibilities with their British counterparts. Most of them explained that they had been approached in the past by foreign universities about collaborations and they were quite a few challenges which they are willing to share in their discussions. Overall, the responses were positive and exciting.
At the meeting were NUC Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Mr. Chris  Maiyaki; Directors of:  Finance and Account (DFA), Mr. Sam Onazi;  Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi; Open, Distance and e-learning (DODel), Engr. Kayode Odedina; Human Resource (DHR), Mr. Boniface C Odum;  Executive Secretary’s Office (DESO), Mr. John A. Mairafi; as well as Acting Directors of Skills and Entrepreneurship Education (DSDE), Mr. Ashafa Ladan; Inspection and Monitoring (DIM), Lydia Imorua; as well as the Deputy Director, Information, Mrs Offiong  Edor, among others.