Funding, graduate employability, governance system dominate discussion at pro-chancellors’ confab

QUALITY of graduates, investment in education, as well as governance in the university system are some of the issues exhaustively discussed at the 4th Biennial Conference of the Pro-chancellors of State-owned Universities, hosted by the Tai Solarin University of Education.

The pro-chancellor of TASUED and former vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Bamiro, in his welcome address noted that recent developments in the tertiary education system called for conferences of this nature, to articulate the challenges and proffer evidence-based policies and programmes to move the system forward.

He charged the participants and invited speakers to “go beyond political correctness” and imbibe the traditional academic culture of telling it as it is – if the conference would be worth the effort.

The keynote speaker at the conference was the executive secretary, National Universities Commission, Professor Julius Okojie, whose paper ‘Current Challenges Facing State Universities in Nigeria: A Critical Appraisal and Way Forward’, was presented by the former vice chancellor of the Ekiti State University, Professor Patrick Oladipo Aina.

The Ogun State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Modupe Mujota, who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun, declared the conference open.

In her address, she noted that higher education in Nigeria is confronted with enormous challenges, with the heat more on the state-owned universities.

Most critical of these challenges, she noted, is funding. However, she said that funding as a share of university revenue is likely to continue to decline owing to the current global economic recession.

She said: “As a result, higher institutions must see themselves as key partners and integral part in the ongoing need for internally generated revenue. We must brainstorm on the way forward and plan toward securing our future. We must look at stable and sustainable long-term funding models.”

He commended TASUED for its “innovation and resourcefulness” through its production of various items and products, including water, furniture, fruit juice, poultry, and farm produce – which he said the state government patronize and would continue to patronize.

Also speaking at the event, the secretary-general of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and former vice chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Michael Faborode, emphasized the need for government to recognize the right of each university’s Senate to prescribe the modality for admission, and to refrain from “making pronouncements on education matters that will affect the state and private universities.”

He also commended the quality of leadership and commitment of the governing councils of many of the state universities despite the challenges in the education sector.

The chairman, Committee of Pro-chancellors of State-owned Universities in Nigeria, HRH Professor Gregory Akenzua, in his address said the choice of the theme of the conference was apt in the light of current realities.

He expressed the confidence that recommendations arising from the conference would go a long way in proffering solutions to many of the challenges faced by state universities.

Justice of the Supreme Court and immediate past chairman of the CPSUN, Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, was honoured with an award at the event.