Establishing more varsities without funding existing ones unacceptable, COPSUN tells Govs

Asks ASUU to find alternative to strike

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities in Nigeria has urged state governments to desist from establishing more universities when already existing ones are not adequately funded. For the academic administrators, such action runs against the grain.

COPSUN also expressed worry over incessant strike actions embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities to force the Federal Government into revitalising tertiary institutions in the country and noted that strikes cannot be a solution to industrial problems.

It made these disclosure at the end of its 6th Biennial Conference held at Osun State University, Osogbo, from Monday 21 to Friday 25, 2022, where the university administrators reviewed the state of university education in Nigeria and proffered the way forward.

A communique issued on Thursday and signed by Mallam Yusuf Alli, SAN, the Chairman of COPSUN, urged ASUU leadership to seek alternative ways of venting grievances adding that it has been troubled over the ongoing strike and its consequences for the prospects of the already traumatized institutions of higher learning in the country.

Alli, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of UNIOSUN Governing Council, said there is a need for strict regulation and control, and if possible, a moratorium should be placed on the establishment of private universities in the country stressing that private universities which currently totaled ninety-nine have not added any value to the enrolment of students or access of the same to university education in Nigeria.

Alli noted that lack of funding has caused state-owned universities several setbacks in achieving the mission and vision of establishing universities. He frowned against establishment of more state universities when the existing ones are not properly funded adding that most state universities have not been functional because they were not adequately funded.

He opined that autonomy is crucial for state-owned universities’ smooth running and governance and called on state governors to give full autonomy to Pro-chancellors to run the universities according to standards acceptable globally, saying that students should be made to access their lecturers in a globally acceptable pattern for continuous relevance and validation of academics.

He said if all these solutions proferred at the conference that featured technical sessions with different presentations of papers by scholars, were implemented, universities would develop, operate in tandem with international best practices, witness patronage from foreign students and promote global solutions to local problems.

“Troubled by the current strike action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities and the consequences for the prospects of the already traumatized institutions of higher learning in the country, the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-owned Universities (COPSUN) restates its long-standing position that strikes cannot be a solution to industrial problems. It was observed that it was high time ASUU sought alternative ways of venting grievances and demonstrating that lecturers were equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project.

According to him, “There is a need to recognize that both COPSUN and ASUU are partners in progress with similar goals, even if there may be divergence in the strategies adopted to achieve the same objective of developing the university system in the country. In the same vein, the Federal Government needs to do more to reassure ASUU/lecturers of its commitment to fulfilling agreements voluntarily entered into. Since the future of any nation depends on the quality of its education and the recognition accorded it internationally, the current state of our universities leaves much to be desired. Therefore, greater attention should be devoted to improving the fortunes of the university education system in the country.

“State-owned universities have experienced severe setbacks in achieving the mission and vision of establishing universities. The university system is bedeviled with inadequate funding, which directly and indirectly affects its functionality. As a result, Governing Councils and Vice-Chancellors have become saddled with seeking funds in shrinking fiscal space. The state capacity to fund university education can be enhanced by finding a way to balance political expediency against economic sense.

“In Nigeria, the establishment of state-owned universities has become a ‘constituency project.’ Every local government and state seeks to establish and own a university. The proliferation of state universities at the same time that the existing ones are not adequately funded run against the grain. State government should, therefore, support their institutions to deliver quality education. Adequate funding will facilitate and promote research development and position the university as the real engine for knowledge generation, innovation, and overall national development.”