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Unionists say granting new varsity licences ill-timed

The Minister of State for Education had announced the licence approvals last Wednesday in Abuja.

ASUU
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NAN reports that the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, had announced the Federal Government’s approval of the licences following a memo submitted by the Federal Ministry of Education.

The minister announced the approval after the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting last Wednesday in Abuja.

The educationists told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos that establishing new university was not the solution to the challenges currently facing the education sector.

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Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said that establishing new universities was not all about creation of more access for students.

According to Ogunyemi, approving new universities can be a step in the right direction, but the current situation does not lie solely on it.

“If you look at it on one hand, it will be right to argue that the approval of these universities has opened more access for potential students to pursue their academic dreams.

“It looks like democratisation of education, in which case, we are trying to open more access for the teeming youths seeking university education.

“But then, we need to balance access with quality.

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“There is really no need to keep approving more universities when the existing ones are almost in comatose.

“The opening of more private university is like saying that the Federal Government needs just quantity and displaying its failure to properly fund existing public universities.

“To me, I feel there is need to x-ray the sector, identify core challenges and balance quality with quantity.

“It will amount to nothing if we fail to carry out our various responsibilities,’’ he told NAN.

Dr Adelaja Odukoya, the Chairman of ASUU, ‎ University of Lagos Chapter, also spoke against the new universities, saying the government was confused in carrying out the action.

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Odukoya told NAN that establishing more universities was not the solution to the crisis bedevilling the nation’s education system.

“Approval of operating licences for the new private universities at a time when private universities are patently unattractive and undesirable is highly unfortunate,’’ he said.

He urged the government to find a solution to the problem confronting the education sector which is beyond the commercialisation‎ of tertiary education.

Also, Dr Isaac Oyewunmi, Chairman of ASUU, Lagos State University (LASU) Chapter, said the newly licensed private universities might not last long before they close shop.

Oyewunmi said ‎the National Universities Commission (NUC), regulating activities of universities ought to have considered the timing before seeking government’s approval of their licences.

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“From experience, the regulating institution do not usually consider the criteria they ought to before issuing these institutions licence because most of them are corrupt,’’ he said.

According to him, while the regulating institution may have reasons for its ‎actions, the timing, considering the present education system, is worrisome.

He advised the NUC to re-evaluate the timing of issuing licences to universities and take the right decision that would improve the education system.

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