The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Rasheed mni, MFR, FNAL, has expressed concerns over quality of programmes run by affiliate institutions, declaring that for effective delivery of quality university education, there must be synergy between parent universities and their affiliate institutions.

He made the remarks in an address at a one-day interactive meeting with Vice-Chancellors of parent universities and Provost/Rectors of as well as Directors of affiliate institutions in Nigerian University System (NUS) held on Thursday, at the Commission’s secretariat.

Represented by the Director, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Sam Onazi, the Executive Secretary said that since 1983 with the affiliation of College of Education Kano to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria the Commission had been fostering affiliations in the NUS as an important strategy towards expanding access to university education.

He said that despite the growing number of affiliate institutions, questions had been raised by stakeholders on the quality of degree programmes run by the institutions due to lack of supervision or poor supervision. He said that some had observed the inadequate supervision of the affiliate institutions by their parent universities, whose degree programmes the affiliate institutions are offering and each year, chunks out a large percentage of graduates who carry the degree certificates of their parent universities.

He said that “It is against this background that NUC in ensuring quality of degree programmes in affiliate institutions in Nigeria and in line with best practices, conducted a system-wide monitoring and inspection visit to 104 affiliate institutions with the intent to determining the level of supervision of the affiliate institutions by their parent universities”.

Professor Rasheed reported that as part of efforts towards expanding access to university education, the Commission conducted a survey of all affiliate institutions in the NUS in 2008. At the end of the exercise, a total of 53 institutions that were granted approval for affiliations were identified and in order to effectively assess the requests for approval from institutions, the Commission in 2009, developed a set of guidelines on affiliations. He added that from 2008 to January 2019, the Commission has granted approval to 112 affiliate institutions. These include 60 Colleges of Education, 52 faith-based institutions, Polytechnics and Monotechnics.

The NUC Scribe said that in furtherance to the commitment towards enhancing quality in affiliate programmes, in 2018/2019, the Commission conducted another Inspection and Monitoring exercise. The first phase which was conducted for a period of three weeks from 24th June to 15th July, 2018, a total of 82 affiliate institutions were visited.  In June 2019, 22 approved affiliate institutions that were inadvertently omitted during the 2018 exercise were visited in order to have a comprehensive report on affiliations in the NUS, thereby, making it a total of 104 approved affiliate institutions visited.

On the outcome of the meeting, Professor Rasheed said that, “It is worthy that due to numerous deficiencies identified in the course of the exercise which border on compliance with NUC guidelines on affiliation, the Commission deemed it fit to organise a stakeholders’ interactive meeting on the supervisory role of parent universities of affiliate institutions, in order to draw attention of parent universities and their affiliate institutions on the identified deficiencies and findings of the exercise”,

He further stated that though affiliate arrangement had some challenges seeking for solutions, he expressed optimism that the meeting would bring to meaningful perspective, the respective roles of parent universities in order to ensure effective and orderly development of university education in Nigeria,

The Executive Secretary expressed optimism that the forum would provide seamless opportunity for participants to rub minds on those issues that needed to be addressed for the purpose of finding lasting solutions.

Welcoming participants earlier, the Acting Director, Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs. Agnes Bamgbala said that the forum was an opportunity for both parent universities and their affiliate institutions to interact and proffer ways of strengthening relationships towards development of university education.

She reassured that the Commission would continue to support affiliations in university system and professionally guide towards ensuring that quality programmes were run in affiliate institutions as obtainable in parent universities. She expressed optimism that the forum would contribute in creating strong synergy and also be beneficial to the participants as they got sensitised on rudiments of affiliation in NUS.

Presenting the NUC criteria and guidelines on affiliation, the Director, Academic Planning, Dr. Noel B. Saliu, who was presented by the Deputy Director, Affiliate Division of the Directorate, Barr. Samuel S. Adejoh informed participants that any university intending to affiliate with any non-degree awarding tertiary institution must satisfy some conditions regarding the affiliation.

He pointed out that first and foremost the university must have been in existence for 15 years and could only affiliate with not more than five institutions either federal, state or private, adding that students’ enrolment in the programmes in which affiliation was being sought in the parent university must not be more than the approved carrying capacity. He said that the host or parent university must also have the undergraduate equivalent of the programme for affiliation which must have obtained full accreditation status.

The Teacher Students Ratio (TSR) and the staff mix in those programmes in the host university must be in line with NUC approved guidelines and the programmes run under the affiliation by the non-degree awarding institution must be approved by NUC and run at the parent university. The host university must have requisite staff mix in its programme  to midwife affiliation and must demonstrate ability to midwife such affiliations through establishment of Affiliation Supervisory Committee (ASC).

It is also required that the Senate of the affiliating university must in each circumstance approve such affiliations including such programmes to be run by the affiliating institutions and a progress report on each affiliating institution must be sent to NUC annually by the parent university. Affiliation should not exceed a maximum radius of 200km between parent and affiliate institutions.

All intending affiliations must be duly applied for and necessary application forms obtained, properly completed and submitted to NUC and all applications be accompanied with a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the affiliating institutions and host universities.

Barr. Adejoh also said that for any non-degree awarding institution intending to affiliate with a university, it must have been in existence for at least 20 years and had produced three sets of graduates for at least 15 years. The institution must also have adequate number of academic and non-academic staff by qualification, rank and mix in line with NUC guidelines. The student population in the programmes of the affiliated institution must not be more than 20% of total student population in the institution. The TSR must be in accordance with the approved NUC Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) in the relevant programmes.

Admission requirements into programmes of the affiliate institution must be the same with the minimum requirements for the same programme in the parent university and programmes run under affiliation must be subject to NUC accreditation assessment. He also stated that the requirements for graduation for both full and part time students must be the same as those of the parent university. Also, the affiliate institution must have an Academic Brief for programmes run at degree level and such academic brief must be certified by the parent university and approved by NUC. The affiliate institution must have adequate infrastructural facilities in conformity with the BMAS for relevant programmes which should also be properly funded such that the requisite facilities and human resources could be provided to ensure quality academic delivery. The library should have adequate current and relevant books and journals for effective teaching and learning as well as be accessible to both students and staff. Provision should also be made for adequate recreational facilities including.

On admissions into affiliate institutions, Barr. Adejoh pointed out that all candidates seeking admission must meet admissions requirements specified by the host university for entry into its equivalent undergraduate programme and admissions must be conducted by the parent university. All admissions must be through Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and all admitted students must bear the matriculation number of the parent university and admissions are restricted to undergraduate programmes only and Sandwich programmes are not allowed for affiliate programmes. All records of students must be kept both in the host university and the affiliate institution.

He emphasised that it is the responsibility of the host university to moderate all examinations to be taken by the students of the affiliate institutions and external moderations of examinations of affiliate institutions should be carried out by qualified university academics other than those from the host university but coordinated by it. All students admitted into affiliate institutions should be certificated by the parent university and their records and transcript could only be issued by the university. He said that it was the responsibility of the host university to present graduates of the graduate institution for participation into National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

He further informed the participants that before any affiliation arrangement is approved by NUC, a Resource Assessment of the affiliating institution must be carried out so as to ascertain the human and material capacity to run undergraduate programmes, stressing that all documents relating to the affiliation including the MoU must be submitted to NUC for analysis.

The workshop also featured discussions on proposed review of NUC criteria and guidelines on affiliation moderated by Deputy Executive Secretary (Administration), Dr. Gidado Bello Kumo and presentation of report on the monitoring of supervisory roles of parent universities on their affiliate institutions by Mrs. Bamgbala.