A delegation from Ottawa University led by officials of the Nigeria High Commission in Canada, last Tuesday, conducted its maiden exploratory visit to the National Universities Commission (NUC) with the idea of establishing a win-win partnership with Nigerian universities, using the transnational education mode.
Receiving the Canadian delegation on behalf of the Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed Mni, MFR, FNAL, the Deputy Executive Secretary (DES), Mr. Christopher Maiyaki welcomed the delegation and informed them that NUC was established to set standard and ensure quality within the Nigerian University System. It was also NUC’s mandate to ensure access and equity in the development of University education in Nigeria.
He further stated that NUC started as an advisory agency in the cabinet office in 1962.
It, however, became a statutory body in 1974, since then evolution had taken place and today Nigeria has a total of 218 Universities, adding that some states have more than one federal university, in addition to more than two state universities and several private universities. The most recent private universities added were 12 that just came on board.
According to him, the country was blessed with several specialized universities which include Universities of Agriculture, Technology, Education, Medical Universities and Health Sciences.
He explained that the Commission has the sole responsibility of overseeing university educational system in Nigeria and also embarked on resource verification before any programme could be accepted. It also engaged experts on curriculum review and had continued to update the curriculum.
He stated that the Commission, through its accreditation sub-committee undertakes the monitoring and supervision of universities in Nigeria, a strategy used to ensure a smooth running of academic programmes.
He mentioned other functions of the Commission to include formulation of policies and implementing them, making recommendation to government on the establishment of private Universities and also issuing licenses for the operations of private university.
The DES explained that the University system had been undergoing some challenges such as students inability to gain admission into higher institution due to inadequate numbers of universities as only between 500-600 thousand students gained admission out of about 2 million students that sat for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination yearly, including shortages in the number of academic staff, staff training and gender empowerment.
He further explained that NUC has been working hard to make sure that its universities were truly international and become part of the global system. He said that in order to elevate the Nigeria education status, NUC had set up an advisory committee led by the former NUC Executive Secretary, Professor Peter Okebukola to assist in the repositioning of the Nigerian University System (NUS).
The DES expressed the hope that the purpose of the visit would be beneficial to both Nigeria and Canada.
The Director, Open Distance and E-learning (DODel), Engr. Kayode Odedina gave a summary of some models of transnational Education as recognized by NUC.
He said to drive the process of mainstreaming Trans-National Education (TNE) and in line with the global Community, NUC had in 2011 established the Department of Open and Distance Education now christened the (‘Directorate of Open Distance and e-learning’) with a Division called (Cross -Border Education, and now Tran-National Education) division, which is charged with the responsibility of handling Transnational Education issues.
This, he said, was informed by the need to put the necessary quality assurance framework guidelines in place. He stated that in line with the global trends, the Commission found it necessary to expand the scope of TNE provision by adding more models to the initial three comprising Twinning/ Articulation, Branch Campus and the Open and Distance Learning model.
Engr. Odedina explained that the purpose for adding more models was to further liberalising the provision of TNE. He went further to list the various models of TNE proposed for the Nigerian space to include: twinning/Articulation, branch campus, the open and distance Learning model, Joint/parallel degrees, independent Institutions, acquisition/merger and teaching institutions.
While elaborating on the models, Engr. Odedina said the twinning/ articulation model involved a foreign University (recognized and accredited by competent authorities in its home Country) and an approved Nigerian University collaborating to offer courses, enrich curricula content, pedagogy, and offer degrees with Joint or dual Certification or have articulation arrangements, study on host and home Campuses.
He said that this model might be acceptable by the Nigerian government provided that under the articulation arrangement, upon successful completion of an approved course of study, students are awarded degrees of the Nigerian University.
He noted that the branch campus model was one in which a foreign University establish its campus anywhere in Nigeria, following the NUC standing procedures for establishment of branch campus. He said programmes offered in the Nigerian Campus must be a replica of those offered in the parent institution in the home country and should meet the standards and quality assurance requirements currently applicable to Nigerian Universities.
He stressed that the Open Universities were however, expected to comply with the ODL model approved for the Nigerian University System (NUS) which was the ICT-enabled support blended learning (IESBL) model, noting that it is the acceptable and practicable model in Nigeria for now.
Engr. Odedina said that the joint/parallel degrees model was an arrangement whereby providers in different countries collaborate to offer a programme for which students receive qualifications from the providers, or a joint award from the collaborating partners, adding that the arrangements for programme provision and criteria for awarding the qualifications were customized for each collaborative initiative in accordance with National Regulations in each country.
As for the independent institution model, he said, the foreign provider establish a stand-alone University in Nigeria which offered programmes and that there was usually no “parent institution” in the country of the foreign provider and it was therefore, independent.
He said that NUC would need to work together with the foreign providers on the design, delivery and quality assurance of the academic programmes. He noted that the procedure for establishment of Private Universities also applied and gave a brief summary of the other models of TNE.
In his speech, Head Partnership Development Africa, Ottawa University, Canada, Mr. Mustinrimana Serge said, they saw Africa as a strategic partner most especially Nigeria as one of the countries in the West African region which they could strengthen their partnership with since they had been to the five regions of Africa namely; East, North, West, Central and Southern Africa. He said, the Ottawa University believed that partnership with Universities in Nigeria should be a win win partnership and they intend to build strong relationship with Universities in Africa.
He explained further that the Ottawa University was founded in 1848 as bilingual public research University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, that the main Campus was located on 425 hectares (105 acres) land in the heart of Ottawa’s Downtown core.
He further disclosed that the school was co-educational with both English and French speaking students and enrolled over 35,000 undergraduates and over 6,000 post graduates students. He stated that the school had approximately 7,000 international students from 150 countries, accounting for 17 percent of the student population and with a network of more than 195,000 alumni.
Mr. Serge informed the NUC that the Institution has 550 programmes for undergraduates, Master and PHD, it is the 11th greenest Campus in the World with ten(10) faculties which are; Arts, Management, Social Sciences, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Science, Health Science, Law and Common Law.
He said that it was Canada’s most sustainable Campus, where research was extremely important and the University has been ranked 8th in terms of total research funding in Canada and that gives the Institution the more reason to go into partnership with other universities. He stated that in the area of publication, the University is ranked 6th in Canada, they have 208 research chair, 23 research centers, 5 National center of excellence.
He listed the areas of partnership with Institutions from other Countries to include; International Student exchange Programme, teacher mobility, tailor-made administrative training, mobility of administrative staff, 2+2 partnership, that is allowing students to spend two years in Nigeria and two years in Canada during their years of study.
Other areas of partnership included co-supervision of doctorate thesis, exchange of faculty members for teaching, visiting student research, development of joint research project and exchange of publications and academic materials.
He particularly made mention of the partnership they had with the Egyptian government, and the project is called Digital Egypt Builders Initiatives (DEBI) although it took them six month to reach an agreement but it was a three-year agreement which focused on Artificial intelligence, Cyber security and Robotics and Data science. He said it was done in such a way that Egyptian students would be in Egypt while receiving lecturers in Canada.
Concuring to Engr. Odedina’s summary of the seven models, Mr. Serge said that all the seven models were relevant but, they required different levels of engagement, and believed that the twinning/articulation model was easy to implement while the teaching institution model was an option to explore.
In a vote of thanks, the Director, Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU), Mrs. Constance Goddy-Nnadi thanked the Canadian delegation for coming to NUC on the issues of partnership and collaboration, describing it as a two way thing. She also thanked the Vice chancellors for their presence and thanked the Deputy Executive Secretary and everybody who made the meeting a success.
In the Canadian delegation were International Recruitment Manager, Collins Enwemasor; International Market Development Manager, Thierno Ba; President Maple Canada College, Ebi Obaro, and Tandu Musa Ahmed, Head of Chancery Nigerian High Commission.
Present at the meeting from the NUC group were NUC Directors of Academic Planning (DAP), Dr. Noel Abiodun Saliu; Students (Dos), Mr. Sunday Essien, Human Resources (DHR), Mr. Boniface Odum, and Accreditation (DA) was represented by Ogechukwu Okafor.
Others were Acting Directors of Directorate of Research, Innovation and Information Technology, (DRIIT), Mr. Lawan Faruk; Inspection and Monitoring (DIM), Mrs. Lydia Imoroa; Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (DSDE), Mr. Ashafa Ladan; Public Affairs (DPA), Mal. Haruna Lawal Ajo. In attendance were the Deputy Director Internal Audit, Kenny Ogwu and Head of special Duties in Executive Secretary’s office Ms. Ulonna Iyama. Also at the meeting were the Vice Chancellors of the University of Port-Harcourt, Prof. Owunari Georgewill; Veritas University, Prof. Hyacinth Ichoku; University of Abuja, Prof Abdulrasheed Na’ Allah; Bayero University Kano, Prof. Sagir Adamu Abbas; University of Illorin, Prof. Abdulkareem Sulyman and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics) University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Johnson Uranma, among other University Scholars