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Inadequate Funding & Problem of Accreditation in Nigeria Universities



In the past two decades, universities in Nigeria have been beset by numerous problems which have impacted negatively on the quality of her products. These problems have ranged from infrastructural deficiencies, dearth of laboratory equipment, extreme shortage of qualified lecturers, and admission of unqualified students. Most of the problems have emanated from unplanned expansions, poor funding, corruption and maladministration by unqualified personnel appointed by the proprietors of the public institutions.
The magnitude of the problem only becomes evident when the universities are required to face the routine accreditation exercises conducted by the National Universities Commission. The problem of substandard facilities in universities represent a significant national disaster as the poor quality graduates they produce are not sufficiently knowledgeable to turn the wheels of industrialisation. This creates a significant retardation of our developmental strides and reduces our competitiveness as an investment destination because of the lack of the necessary pool of skilled workforce.
But why do so many institutions only manage to scale through the accreditation process and why are some unable to scale through in spite of all the manipulations that are witnessed during the process? The answer boils down to insufficient funds. The absence of funds may be related to insufficient budgetary allocation from the funding government or poor management of the available fund by the university administrators.
It is obvious that there is poor fund allocation by the various governments to the publicly owned universities. The situation in the Plateau State University Bokkos, where the university has not been able to produce a single graduate in nine years vividly demonstrates the consequences of government starvation of the universities of necessary funds. In the case of the Kaduna State University, the absence of a teaching hospital has not permitted the medical students to go beyond the third year of studies, six years after the faculty was established.
Nonetheless, money was found to send the pioneer medical students abroad to continue their clinical studies, though in a third world country like Uganda. In all of this, there is no consideration for the personal tragedies of the students who cannot graduate nine years after commencement of a four year programme due to no fault of theirs.
In the older institutions, the accreditation palaver is more discretely managed. This is not because of greater availability of funds but rather the ability of the administrators to set up a series of smokescreens which more or less cover up the many deficiencies accumulated over the years in many of the programmes up for accreditation.
In many cases, most of the programmes that were previously accredited have undergone extensive decay due to unregulated expansions and stagnation of infrastructural development. The governments that operate these institutions do not seem to appreciate what a proper university should look like. Many new universities are not better than secondary schools in terms of the quality of infrastructure and equipment. After the initial outlay of funds for take-off, there is often no provision for capital development and the institutions stagnate.
The Vice-Chancellors who would have provided academic leadership have become extensions of the political class and mouth pieces of the state and national administrations. Within the restricted facilities under their jurisdiction, they establish new faculties and departments without considerations for infrastructural development. The National Universities Commission (NUC) further compounds the problem of infrastructural deficit by unilaterally increasing the admission quota of the federal universities without due consideration for their actual carrying capacities. I often wonder what they expect to see when they reappear a few years later for accreditation. Of course, the same offices, classrooms and sometimes laboratories are renamed and presented for accreditation by the various departments to secure full accreditation! Sometimes I wonder who is fooling who?
Meanwhile, most of the accredited facilities are highly deficient and cannot support the training of high-end personnel required to effectively run the newly established institutions. Huge amounts of money that could have been used for local capacity building are deployed abroad by the Federal and State scholarship boards to train candidates who may never return to Nigeria.
While the laboratories remain empty, there is no shortage of funds for uncontrolled hiring of administrative staff that very often outnumber the academic staff by a ratio of two to one. There is also no shortage of funds to purchase brand new official cars for the ever increasing number of administrators that often add no value to the system.
At the end of the day, many programmes are accredited but there is no improvement in training facilities. Meanwhile, the children of the ruling class are abroad, taking advantage of the excellent facilities, but they cannot drive the wheels of industrialization of the nation alone. More funds must be allocated to the educational sector, especially the universities to improve capacity and subsequently the quality of her products.


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