Funding still major challenge in varsities- Vice-Chancellors

By Funmilayo Adeyemi
Abuja, Dec. 14, 2023 (NAN) The Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (CVCNU) decries  inadequate funding as one of the major challenges militating against effective growth and global ranking of public universities in Nigeria.
The Secretary-General of CVCNU, Prof. Yakubu Ochefu, in Abuja on Thursday at a “Workshop for Advancement and Alumni Officers”, said there was the need for cost-sharing based on what was required to train a student in the university.
The event which had the theme: “Institutional Advancement, Alumni Relations and University Education in Nigeria” was organised by CVCNU in collaboration with the Conference of Alumni Association of Nigerian Universities (CAANU).
He disclosed that the committee was able to come up with figures about what was required to train a student in a university, including public universities.
He noted that there was still gaps in the cost-sharing ratio between the government and the individual student.
According to him, to train one medical student in a university takes about N5 billion even in the public universities.
“To train one medical student in a university costs about N5 billion, even in the public university, it costs about N5 billion. So what is the cost- sharing ratio between government and individuals in public universities?
“So, if government wants to take responsibility for the training of the student, it should pay the 5 billion naira so the university can use it to run its operations. You cannot give a Vice- Chancellor N3 million and say go and manage.
“So, the quality of what you put in just like the proverbial ‘better soup na money kill am’, is what we are talking about. And we see it happening right before our own eyes,” he said.
Ochefu admitted that government alone could not fund education.
He added that the workshop was organised as part of efforts to harness the potential of Alumni of various institutions across the country as well as non-university organisations or persons as huge alternative source of funding for Nigerian Universities.
“At the level of the committee of  vice-chancellors, we discussed various challenges that are facing the Nigerian university system and we realised very quickly, that our relations with persons or with institutions that are not within our ecosystem is not as strong as it should be.
“The type of strategic partnerships that we have with industry, type of strategic partnership we have with foreign organisations, at the donor level and others is not as strong as it should be.
“Though we have these offices in place, many of them are not calibrated to work together to deliver what we refer to as global best practice in terms of how universities can benefit from relationship with non-university persons,” he said.
Ochefu said the CVCNU in partnership with CAAN decided to bring some specialists to come and share insights on what was needed to be done to leverage the potentials of Alumni association and other non-university persons for enhanced development of university system in Nigeria.
The Vice-Chancellor of Joseph Tarka University, Makurdi, Prof. Isaac Itodo, who was also the  immediate past Vice-Chairman of CAANU, said the workshop was organised not only to interrogate the roles of alumni association desk officers but to redefine their roles for positive delivery.
He, therefore, said that the time had come to revisit the activities of alumni associations because they were major stakeholders of every institution.
According to him, there is  need to get them take ownership of their respective institutions.(NAN)