THE Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed has revealed that only 61,000 academics are currently teaching in the 164 universities in the country with student population put at 1.96 million.
He also identified poor leadership and bad governance as the major problems militating against the capacity of the Nigerian universities to achieve their core mandate of teaching, reaching and community service.
Rasheed spoke on Tuesday in Abuja a two-day retreat for the Governing Councils of Nigerian universities, with a theme: “Elements of Statutory Governance, Procurement and Financial Accounting in Nigerian Universities”.
He insisted that 61,000 lecturers to about 2 million students were grossly inadequate for effective teaching and learning to be achieved in the university system.
He further noted that governance was at the heart of higher education all over the world, saying, however, that the consequences of poor leadership and bad governance have combined to undermine the capacity of the Nigerian universities to actualise their core mandate of teaching research and community service.
Rasheed lamented that the governance structure and processes in the Nigerian universities revealed a disturbing situation characterized by poor leadership, corrupt practices, avoidable conflict, general under-performance, profound parochialism and inadequate teaching and learning environment.
He said: “Poor leadership and bad governance have constituted themselves as stumbling blocks in the universities and are making it difficult for the universities to generate original knowledge, build character, drive innovation and contribute significantly towards the national development.”
He added that many of the management problems in the universities were traceable to crises in the governance and leadership.
He said it was because of these problems and other challenges bedevilling the university system that NUC in collaboration with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian universities and Committee of Pro-Chancellors, have decided to organized the retreat for Chairmen of Governing Councils, Vice-Chancellors, Registrars, Bursars of all the 42 Federal Universities in the country.
The NUC boss said he was glad that the retreat was coming at a time when the Commission is embarking on a very bold mission of reforming the university system in Nigeria.
He said there was the need to chart a new course in addressing these challenges, saying “can we raise university enrollment to about 50% in the next 5 years. Instead of two million, do we expect it to be three million next year?
“I’m very happy that the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Dr Abdullahi Baffa is here. One or two of the major indicators in the Nigerian universities are the space because of infrastructure and the quality and number of academics, which are key areas being addressed by TETFund.
“We were wondering when we were discussing this that if TETFund had not been around in the last 10 years, we won’t have talked about 2 million students in our universities today.
“We have about 1.96 million students enrollment in our universities with only 61,000 academics, which is very unhealthy.
“In Oxford University, they have about 17,000 students with about 13,000 students teaching in that university. This is why the university could achieve 1 to 2 tutorial, a Professor to about two students, and they meet every week throughout their stay in the university.
“There we have 13,000 academics training 17,000 students and here we have 61,000 academics training 2 million students. Our plan is how to produce and retain about 40,000 academics in the next 5 years,” Rasheed said.
Some documents produced by the Professor Peter Okebukola, advisory committee, including “The State of Nigeria University System 2017” and Digest on Nigerian University System were presented to the public at the event.
Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Ayo Banjo, in his remark said universities all over the world aim at excellence, saying most of the products of the university system in Nigeria, called to question.
He said emphatically that a graduate who could not think properly was not worthy of the degree.
He said it was said that no university in Nigeria could feature among the 500 top in the global ranking, calling on the Federal government and other owners of universities in Nigeria to properly fund the institutions.
Ayo Banjo, also advocated for the introduction of tuition fees so as to ensure cost sharing in the running of the universities.