NUC scraps sub-degree diplomas in varsities

  • To review varsities’ curriculum, ranking of institutions soon

THE National Universities Commission has officially scrapped sub-degree diploma programmes in the Nigerian university system and has urged all universities running them to begin the process of winding them down.

The commission has also announced plan for a comprehensive review of the entire university curricula (the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS)) in order not to be only dynamic and responsive to national needs, but also conform to global trends.

Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, made this known on Monday in Abuja after consultations with the Vice Chancellors of federal, state and private universities in the country.

Prof Rasheed said the running sub-degree diplomas were not the business of universities, but that of polytechnics.

He explained that the Federal Government had as far back as November, 2001, issued a circular stating that such diplomas could not be used for employment or promotion purposes in the public service.

Rasheed told the Vice Chancellors at the meeting that instead of stretching their facilities to run sub-degree programmes, the universities should direct their energies towards their primary function of producing high level manpower for the economy, by strengthening their part-time programmes in addition to offering high quality undergraduate degrees as well as postgraduate diplomas and degrees.

He noted that the review of the curricula and ranking of Nigerian universities have been scheduled for 2017.

According to him, NUC would engage a mix of old, experienced and young, vibrant academics to come up with curricula that would “not only be dynamic and responsive to national needs, but also conform to global trends.”

He also disclosed that two of the cardinal activities of the Commission, accreditation of programmes and resource verification, would now take place only twice and three times a year; May and November for accreditation as well as March, July and December for resource verification respectively.

A statement obtained from the commission indicated that other decisions taken include the revamping of institutional accreditation, commencement of accreditation of part-time programmes and resumption of the Nigerian University System Annual Review Meeting (USARM).

“The issues of accreditation of academic programmes by professional bodies, shortfalls in personnel emoluments and incorporation of universities into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information Systems (IPPIS) and matters arising from the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were also extensively discussed,” the statement said.

Following the recent development of the BMAS for Aeronautics and Aerospace Engineering; a collaboration between NUC and the Kwara State University, Malete; the Executive Secretary said the Commission would soon conclude work on the BMAS for the Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, Cyber Security, Agriculture Extension Services, Medical Physics, Information Technology and Management Information System, among others.

He reminded the universities that while they could not jettison the BMAS, it was the minimum for each programme and they were at liberty, indeed, encouraged, to innovate and build on it.

Reacting to the constant criticism of Nigerian universities’ poor showing in global ranking, the NUC boss said that many of the variables, parameters and indicators of those rankings were outside the control of Nigerian universities and the NUC.

According to him, “we, the managers of the universities are satisfied with the quality of our degrees and graduates because our good students, from good universities, who make 1st Class, 2nd Class Upper, even good 2nd Class Lower, go abroad for their masters and come back with distinctions and merits. Most of our graduates are qualitative and they can hold their own anywhere.”

He expressed regret that the positive things happening in the NUS were largely under-reported, the negative ones, like when a few semi-illiterates graduated from the system, either through cheating or some other forms of corruption and were unable to defend their certificates, dominated the air waves.