Indications have emerged that 30 per cent of teaching staff in Nigerian university system is yet to acquire their PhDs in order to meet the 100 per cent benchmark set by the national Universities Commission (NUC), New Telegraph has learnt. For the nation’s university system to perform optimally in academic and research, it must meet 30 per cent shortfall of members of academic staff, who are yet to obtain their doctorate degrees.
This short supply of academic staff without PhDs runs contrary to the fiveyear deadline earlier issued in 2009 by the National Universities Commission as benchmark for all lecturers in the university system to acquire doctoral degrees, or be shown the way out of the system.
According to former Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola, who disclosed that the 153 universities (federal, state and private) in the country are yet to meet the benchmark in an exclusive interview with New Telegraph, said that despite the shortfall all universities are working vigorously to address the challenge through intensive postgraduate training of their lecturers and recruitment of new ones with PhDs so as to meet the NUCspecified ratios for accreditation.
In his appraisal of the nation’s education sector after 57 years of independence, and 69 years of university education in Nigeria, Okebukola, however, expressed optimism that in another 10 years, the universities would have a diminished manifestation of the problem or shortage of lecturers with the requisite qualifications.
“The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has also been marvelous in providing funds to federal and state universities for postgraduate training in many of the world’s top universities. Our first-generation universities, especially the University of Ibadan (UI) are also doing their best to increase production of quality PhDs for the system,” he stressed.
The Professor of Science Education, however, advocated the establishment of more higher education institutions to open up additional spaces for qualified candidates, saying such move had become necessary to help in raising Nigeria’s Higher Education Rate (HEPR) and increase the stock of high-level human power in the country.
Based on the reports of HEPR, which defines the proportion of persons in a country, who are eligible for higher education relative to those who are actually enrolled, the don explained that Nigeria had a low enrolment by about nine per cent, while South Africa has inched to 20 per cent and in countries such as the United Kingdom, United States and many other European and Asian countries, it is more than 50 per cent.
On why none Nigerian university after 69 years of higher education has not ranked among Ivy League universities in the world, Okebukola, who described this as worrisome, but explainable, argued further that ranking is largely based on quality of staff and students especially the international mix, quality and relevance of research and quality of infrastructure for delivering the curriculum.
While alluding to some international universities, which have consistently made or top the list of world best universities over the years, he hinted that institutions such as Harvard University which comes atop the league tables yearin- year out, has an annual budget which is six times the budget of all the 153 universities in Nigeria combined.
Despite this, the don noted: “The situation can be addressed by significantly improving the resourcing of our universities for quality teaching and research, as well as encouraging our university management to improve the international mix of staff and students.
“Ranking is largely based on quality of staff and students especially the international mix, quality and relevance of research and quality of infrastructure for delivering the curriculum.”
Worried by the poor funding level of Nigerian university system, Okebukola recalled that institutions in other climes rely largely on tuition fees, saying universities could only survive on “a steep fee regime and of course, income from donations, alumni, endowments and other sources,” like it is obtained in Harvard University and others with similar pedigrees.
But, he bemoaned the Nigerian situation, where he pointed out that tuition fees is paltry, and people hardly donate to the universities, while alumni support is weak and endowment is a pittance.
However, on a happy note, Okebukola hinted that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors (CVC) of federal universities) and the Association of Vice- Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) have been running workshops for university Governing Councils and Vice-Chancellors on how to improve their internally-generated revenue base in which the workshops have started yielding dividends.