PRIVATE UNIVERSITIES: THE HOPE OF NIGERIA’S TERTIARY EDUCATION (5)

 “Congratulations sir, for being a beacon of hope for generation of Nigerian parents who desperately desire a great future for their children without sending them to study abroad”.

 In this edition, I will examine the criticism levied by Mr. Laolu Harolds against NUC and Private Universities on the use of adjunct lecturers. He specifically stated as follows:

“One thing that seems to be common to these universities is the heavy reliance on adjunct academic staff. Actually, a certain level of adjunct staff is allowed by the NUC to augment universities’ academic staffing; but for many of these universities, such adjunct arrangement is the norm, rather than being complementary.

Requisite post-professorial experience is also often sacrificed. In most of these institutions, at any given time, the category of staff that can be readily found on the ground are the Assistant Lecturers and Lecturer IIs. The Senior Lecturers are usually adjunct lecturers from other universities.

A story is told of a professor that was appointed as Vice Chancellor for a private university but had to resign almost immediately when he could not flow with the level of stage-management he was expected to do.

When it was time for the NUC to pay one of its usual accreditation visits, people from outside were usually brought in to front as the university’s regular lecturers, just to make up the number.

In this same university, which relies heavily on adjunct lecturers, salaries are not paid regularly. Some lecturers who can no longer cope have been leaving in frustration.

“The problem is that even the NUC men are complicit in some of these things. They know one another. The irony is that many of these ‘NUC officials’ are usually members of other universities. So, they work together (with their hosts).”

 I see in the above an unfortunate generalisation of the alleged virus among all private universities. Also notable is the fact that the source of the information was not disclosed. Information from an unnamed informant ought not to have been used to cast aspersion on all private universities particularly as Mr Ibrahim Yakassai, the Director of Information and Public Relation of NUC whom Mr Harolds’ interviewed, gave strong reasons why the process of accreditation can hardly be compromised in the manner suggested by Mr Harolds and his unnamed informant.  Therefore, having been armed with the explanation of NUC representatives, it is ill-motivated to have gone ahead to pose the question as done by Mr Harolds’ whether “Academic Staff and NUC Complicit”? Though stated in the form of a question, there is no doubt that Mr Harolds was indeed making an assertion or claim that academic staff and NUC are indeed complicit. It is up to NUC or any member of the accreditation team to vindicate their rights under the law of defamation on civil and criminal liability.

ADJUNCT TEACHERS NOT UNKNOWN TO NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES

The NUC Regulations permit the use of adjunct teachers. Both public and private universities make use of adjunct teachers. Most if not all private universities do comply with the law on number of adjunct lecturers. For one thing, the practice allows good cross-fertilization of ideas as it broadens knowledge. It is indeed not peculiar to Nigeria. Exchange of teachers and students is an international practice.

Furthermore, the claim that Senior Lecturers are usually Adjunct Lecturers shows lack of understanding of the working of university system. The Assistant Lecturers and Lecturer II are however not employed as Adjunct Lecturers because they are still under tutelage and they are expected to learn from experienced teachers. It is mandatory that every university must provide for staff development for such Lecturer. There is staff development policy which the NUC enforces for all universities.

QUALITY CONTROL AND CHARGE OF NUC COMPLICITY?

Contrary to the assertions of Mr Harolds, accreditation by NUC is in consonance with international practice which is designed to ensure high standard by all universities. The NUC is not expected to employ and maintain an army of professors who would go round over 150 universities for accreditation. This is the reason why they have to look for highly qualified professors from other universities for accreditation. This is the practice all over the world and Nigeria cannot be an exception.

 The accusation or the charge of complicity by NUC is uncharitable as it is based merely on the grounds that the assessors appointed by the NUC know themselves prior to the assessment or accreditation exercises. This is highly uncharitable. The NUC is not expected to manufacture Professors for accreditation or import them from the space. The NUC is a creation of law and specifically owes its existence to the provisions of the National Universities Commission Act Cap N81 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010.One of its major functions is contained in Section 4(1)(b).

As the academic community is a close knit one in which members know themselves due to their academic interactions, it borders on absurdity to impeach the NUC accreditation process on account of these close interactions. If anything, the fact that the academics knows themselves will even strengthen the process as they would easily ascertain from the staff employed by a university which program it can actually run.

 PAYMENT OF SALARIES

The charge that salaries are not paid regularly again is an untrue generalisation. The proper evaluation of the universities in this country shows that most public universities do owe salaries for many months whereas there are many private universities where salaries and allowances are paid regularly before the end of the month.

COMMENTS BY READERS

Sir, I have followed with very keen interest your views and analysis on the above subject matter published in recent editions of “The Tribune”. Your views are pungent and down to earth while the analysis of school fees payable in Nigerian private Universities vis-a-vis fees payable in foreign private Universities are unassailable. Private Universities are providing the necessary antidotes to the rot in public universities in Nigeria and should be actively supported by the public and government.  Congratulations sir, for being a beacon of hope for generation of Nigerian parents who desperately desire a great future for their children without sending them to study abroad.
My highest regards sir.

Prof Ifedayo Akomolede

 Your contribution is appreciated.

                                                                                                ….to be continued

 

AARE AFE BABALOLA, OFR, CON, SAN, FCIArb.

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