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Carnegie conference proffers solution to higher education problems

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The Carnegie Regional Convening on Higher Education in Africa has proffered solutions to challenges in both public and private universities in Nigeria.

The conference held at Babcock University, Ogun State, on January 6th and 7th    2022 was titled, ‘The impact of private universities on public universities in Africa.’

It was held in collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin, United States of America, and Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The convener is the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, Prof. Toyin Falola.

A communiqué made available to The PUNCH after the conference said participants were drawn from country researchers, university faculty, Academic Staff Union of Universities, regulators, founders, donors, students, and independent scholars/researchers from different countries; Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria.

The key note speaker was Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe.

It suggested a review of archaic and often disjointed laws in relation to the constitution of Councils, selection of VCs staff discipline and promotion.

“Professionalisation of academic leadership positions (HoDs, Deans and Vice-Chancellors should come from people that have gone through leadership orientation), there should be an improved town and gown relationship (avoid the ivory tower phenomena in the structure of universities), efficient utilisation of resources and avoid having unnecessary structures due to maintenance issues,” it said.

It also called for curriculum reform while encouraging ASUU to reinvent themselves and ensure that members increase teaching presence.

“Universities should respond to local contexts, the treatment of which aggregates to solving national and global problems. To wit, the NUC should allow universities some good level of leverage in determining their curriculum. Step up internal discipline of its members in all branches following the dues processes. Make realistic demands (win-win strategies during negotiations) which are implementable. Academics should also always work with evidence rather than personal opinions in dealing with issues.”

The communiqué further advised the public universities to borrow the efficiency-business-like model of private universities in fundraising, utilisation of resources, and service delivery, saying private universities should borrow the democratic governance structures of public universities.

It read, “NUC accreditation should have credibility. The NUC should allow universities strong leverage in determining their curriculum. Universities should also consult widely with stakeholders including students in developing their curriculum.

“Funding should be prioritised by government and private proprietors in public and private universities in terms of budgetary allocation for quality delivery. Education is a public good therefore, it should be a policy priority and accessed by a greater percentage of candidates/students at affordable costs.”

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