All over the world, universities are established to be the ivory towers of knowledge. They are places where researches are conducted, technical and scientific solutions are provided to the societal ills. This is a the major reason why we have many professionals with minimum of Doctorate degrees in the establishment as compared to other industries. University that worths its name thrives on knowledge dealership, sharing and provision of solutions beyond the average.
We must commend our own. Many of these professionals work under harsh and inhumane condition. Yet they are expected to bring out the best which some are doing through patriotic spirit. As it should be expected, university should constantly build new body of knowledge every now and then. It should constantly tutor young ones who are research- driven to become the best.
But for those who did their Doctor of Philosophy(PhD) in Nigeria, majority have a sad stories to tell. Beyond being good academically, one has to become a ‘house help, driver, forced examiner, question paper markers’ among many other acts of slavery in the name of pursuing higher degrees. In fact PhD is translated in local language as ‘Plenty of Hardwork and Dobale’ which means be ready for plenty of hard work, both academic and slavery as well as readiness to constantly lying down on your belly to beg’ whatever that means.
This is a culture of bitterness which has become age long. Because one person suffered untold hardship from his supervisor during his days as Doctorate degree candidate, others who pass through his hands must go through fire.
Sometimes a common academic argument with your supervisor, defence team which may be valid, may lead to an elongated time of the research work. What is the essence of academic research if we must all see things in the same way. Suffice today is this line of thought as our major focus is in performance base and not supervisor and students relationships.
Now let us examine performance of our Universities, we stand to be corrected though. When last have we heard the announcement of outstanding scientific breakthroughs from our Nigeria universities? The argument though is that universities are not adequately funded which is a fact. It is on record we do not have expected corporate funding of researches in our colleges. But there had been some which are yet to provide relevant good news we desire.
Each university has power to internally generate a level of funding, which they are doing through consultancies, so many pre – degree programmes as well as diploma courses. A search light into appropriate income generated through these means are mouth watering. Yet we have not seen much progress. We do know in some cases, some of these internally generated funds are used to refurbish ageing infrastructure within the system. It is also worthy of note that parts of the income is channeled towards payment of teachers who taught those courses. But the point here is all about balance and focus.
As much as we keep complaining of lack of funding, we think if universities will live to its expectation where we want graduates to become entrepreneurial-driven, the process has to start with leadership. It will not be out of place to appoint Vice Chancellors with entrepreneurial spirits. So beyond academic excellence, a would be Vice Chancellor must be appointed based on certain outlined performance factors which will form his/her evaluation within two years of appointment. Stuff like ability to provide three or four scientific or academic breakthroughs to some of the problems Nigeria society are facing.
Also, we will like to see each candidate come out with a solid proposal, which must be followed to the letter if appointed, on how he/she hopes to bring necessary solutions to some of the challenges the academic communities are facing. If we really want a change in our educational system, it will not be out of place to select sound intellectuals with Doctorate degrees who are scattered around in the corporate world to become Vice Chancellors also.
Vice Chancellors need to become strong system managers with ability to broker great relationship with every stakeholders who can be of value to the university community. This must be without compromising the academic integrity of their universities. Many have tried to do this in the past through awards of honorary doctorate degrees. It has had bad ripple effects on academic community sanity. Vice Chancellors must come with new waves of leadership skills which can impact on both academic and financial environment of their communities. They must be able to bring meaningful changes to the table instead of the tittle that sometimes intoxicate.
Take the issue of Alumni relations in most universities here in Nigeria, the story has not been a great one to tell in most of the universities. Now we know some have alumni relations officer, or manager depending on the school, but the sad thing is that such position is not usually occupied by professionals with track records unlike what obtains in other clime. We must also note that in few instances where ere the right people occupy the right position, there are no required tools to work with.
Alumni relationship management starts with ability to establish mutual trust and respect. In many Universities here, many alumni members have nothing to show for the yearly fee they are supposed to pay to support the university. Hence many do not pay until there is a need to. Value begets value. A properly managed alumni relationship can generate huge benefit to universities. Many people in corporate leadership had passed through one universities or the other.
Data management is important and a lot of outreach will help. Not many Universities here have accurate data of its alumni. Many alumni members also have great sad stories to tell about their universities after leaving school. To collect anything one is qualified for is like requiring a carmel to go through the proverbial niddle eye. Take the issue of academic transcript for instance, you have got to know someone or ‘grease someone’s palm’ to get fast attention.
What saddens one’s heart is that even when one has ‘collected’ such transcript for two to three times, there is usually no e-copy staff in academic record departments can quickly forward to the desired authority the alumni may dedire. The process will have to start again and that at least takes an average of a month or two because it has to be a first come first served. In many cases, academic transcript one pays for is no longer useful for what one needs it for because it arrives late.
Come to think of it, what is the magic behind having all the academic records of each student appropriately stored in e – copy at the end of each semester? Why is it difficulty to have such records computerised in this age of IT. One will be sorry for many University Senate members when the final approval of undergraduate and graduates students result are been presented. Yet someone has not asked why such hard copy are not computerized and sent to each Senate member to view instead of huge hard copies being presented every year. In some cases the delay in getting transcript is due to the fact that there are three or four typists, who still use normal typewriter, to attend to backlogs of academic transcript requests. One wonders what happens to some of these universities’ IT compliance In this 21st century. One university that stands out in academic transcript compilation is the University of Ibadan.
Years after years, many VCs have come and gone in many Universities and yet we still have issues with system management, Information Technology adaptation. The only thing one is sure many Universities have become smart in is in fees collection through use of ATM and direct transfers into the university’s account. Not much value after the payment. Yet we have a university commission which monitors standards.
Are you in Nigeria, does your university has excellent ways of service delivery and system management? Please do share so with us in the comment section below we can include this in subsequent write up. Things must change and now is the time.