The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has said it would soon announce 12 additional research centres of excellence to be sited on various campuses of Nigerian universities.
TETFund’s executive secretary, Suleiman Bogoro, disclosed this in Lagos on Monday at the opening session of a two-day workshop organised as part of the agency’s efforts towards improving the performance of Nigerian ivory towers on the global ranking tables.
The workshop with the theme; “Requirements for Strengthening Nigerian Universities for Higher Global Ranking,” was coordinated by the immediate past vice-chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, Olanrewaju Fagbohun.
Mr Bogoro blamed the poor ranking status of Nigerian tertiary institutions on “politicisation of education in the country, corruption, poor funding by other arms of government” and the proliferation of “less than competitive universities in the country”.
He said his agency is prepared to correct the status quo ante, adding that if the Asian universities could disrupt the world ranking tables through improved outputs and contributions to the global knowledge market, Nigerian universities should be prepared to rise to the challenge.
He said; “The situation is so unfortunate and worrisome that it calls for reflection and action on the part of the government, the Nigerian intelligentsia and indeed the Nigerian people. It is challenging in the sense that the success of our universities is tied to the progress and development of the nation. If the Asian countries were able rise to such an enviable place along the ranking of world universities, nothing stops Nigerian universities from making similar progress if they are so determined.
“Some of the problems identified as hindering the progress and performance of Nigerian universities in the global ranking of world universities include; poor investment by some arms of government in the development of universities, decaying infrastructure, corruption in the public university system, high number of mushroom universities not worthy of status, poor attitude of Nigerian lecturers to teaching and research, large numbers of students at the undergraduate level and limited financial and physical resources, low research out-puts, low performance on international linkages and collaborations, among others.”
Mr Bogoro added that the contributions of the existing 12 research centres which are dubbed centres of excellence, to the research activities in the country, informed the agency’s decision to venture into additional 12.
He, however, failed to mention when the new centres would be announced and where they would be located.
In his welcome address, Mr Bogoro frowned at the current performance of Nigerian universities on the global map, saying South African and Egyptian universities dominate the African continent in terms of better performance.
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He said “to be a true giant of Africa, the story of Nigerian universities must be rewritten for good”, insisting that the development of Nigeria as a nation can only be tied to the quality of its universities.
“The Nigerian government, over the years, is committed to improving the situation. However, a lot needs to be done to put the nation on a path to growth and progress and there is no better place to begin the process than in repositioning the nation’s tertiary institutions and universities which have not fully served the purpose for which they were established,” the executive secretary added.
The chairman of the agency’s board of trustees, Kashim Ibrahim-Imam, said the choice of Mr Fagbohun to coordinate the workshop was due to his exceptional performance within his five-year tenure as the vice-chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo.
LASU was ranked second best university in the country in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) world ranking and ranked among 501-600 universities globally.
Meanwhile, speaking on the goal of the workshop, Mr Fagbohun said the forum will produce guidelines for Nigerian institutions towards improving their rankings on the world tables.
According to the former vice-chancellor, “the facilitators being paraded to make inputs on the guidelines are the same individuals who have served in various capacities globally and have helped foreign institutions to do well in ranking.”
Some of the facilitators include the former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Peter Okebukola; a former vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI), Olufemi Bamiro; vice-chancellors of the University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University, Olwatoyin Ogundipe and Eyitope Ogunbodede, among others.