Lagos - Stakeholders in the education sector have criticised the Federal
Government’s plan to establish three additional universities, saying
rather the existing ones should be strengthened.
The Federal Executive
Council on Wednesday approved the establishment of three additional
federal universities in the country. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
reports that the three new universities are to be sited in Kebbi,
Zamfara and Yobe states.
Reacting, the President, Academic
Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Isa Fagge, said that the
establishment of more universities was not the solution to the
challenges in the sector. Fagge said that though the union was in
support of more Nigerians having access to quality education,
however, the proliferation of universities was an additional burden to
According to him, what government needs to do is to
provide adequate funds to take care of existing universities in order to
achieve their goals.
"The position of the union
regarding the proliferation of universities in the country is clear.
"In as much as we are interested in creating access to education for
citizens, there is the need for us to also consider other factors that
come with it.
"We should first take a survey
of the needs of the existing ones, including the nine that were
recently established,” he said.
The ASUU president said that government
also needed a medium and long term plan to see to the growth of the
universities over a period of years. He identified research
funding as a critical area of the university system that over the years
had been neglected by successive governments. Fagge said that when
these challenges were addressed, it would boost the production of high
level manpower needed for the advancement of the
country. He said that the nine other universities recently established
were ill equipped and lacked the required personnel to assist in
ensuring that the institutions met their mandates.
"Most of our
colleagues go there to serve as visiting or sabbatical
staff, which according to him was negatively affecting the already
existing ones," Prof. Ayodeji Olukoju, the Vice-Chancellor, Caleb
University, Imota said that the establishment of the three new
universities was ill time. He said that politically, government
was right in giving every state a sense of belonging, but the action
would put a lot of pressure on personnel in these universities as well
as the already existing one.
"I do not think the establishment of these
universities will raise the quality of education
in the country. "I am not saying this because I belong to the
academics, of course, the more the merrier. "But my argument is that we
must not use the establishment of universities as a political tool.
"We must also try and get our priorities right in order
not to put ourselves under some kind of pressure,” he said. Similarly,
Dr Olubunmi Ajibade, a senior lecture, Mass Communication Department,
University of Lagos, called for strengthening of existing universities
by way of better funding. According to him,
adequate funding of researches in universities is necessary for them to
rank among the world’s best. Ajibade said that creating more
universities was not what the sector needed at this time but rather
government should focus on enhancing best practices.