From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
A Professor of Management, David Iornem, has urged the Federal Government to provide operating licence for small university colleges as it is being done in the United Kingdom, Ghana, Spain and Benin Republic. If this is done, he believes that it will provide admission opportunities for over two million Nigerian students seeking tertiary education through JAMB, without success.
Prof. Iornem lamented that less than 500,000 of about the two million candidates that sat for 2017 JAMB/UTME are likely to secure admission owing to limited spaces, while the remaining 1.5 million will be forced to join the army of candidates waiting at home for another year.
He urged government to emulate other countries and come up with policies that will create room for regulated small university colleges thereby creating more admissions for teeming Nigerian students.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna, the management consultant, teacher and acclaimed author said he has joined hands with other academics to establish such a university in Cotonou, Benin Republic, which has been accredited and licensed to offer degree in business administration for a start, adding that they intend to add ICT as part of their degree programmes soon.
Prof. Iornem said intending Nigerian students will feel much at home because among the teaching staff being recruited, three are Nigerians two of whom read French at ABU Zaria and Cotonou respectively. The third is based in Lagos with visiting professors including himself. He said there would be no credibility problem as the minister of higher education must sign all certificates obtained at the university.
“I have been advocating for restructuring of higher education to allow more participation from private sector,” he said. “Such restructuring will not limit ownership of higher institutions to billionaires alone; academics of like minds can come together and start a small university college that would offer high standard higher education. They don’t necessarily need to start big. With a big hostel and campus, they can start small with a storey-building apartment and gradually expand.
“Over two million students will take part in JAMB but less than a quarter of that will find places in universities, not because they don’t qualify, but because there are no vacancies. If we have these small university colleges they would help solve the challenge of students with required qualification but no admission for many years.
“If we do, in three years, no Nigerian student with right qualifications will say he doesn’t have admission, they would no longer be at the mercy of JAMB. This system is much used in Ghana and Benin Republic; over 400, 000 Nigerian youths are studying in universities in Ghana and their quality is high. I have started to do what I’m preaching.
“I have applied for a licence to set up a university in Benin Republic. The license has been granted; accreditation has been completed and the ministry of higher education has granted license to Higher Education University (Ecole Superieure Universitaire) in Cotonou to offer degree in business administration with the new session starting off by July 2017. We are set to operate our small university with places for 40 students with five credits in required subjects.
“Influential persons assisting us have offered to sponsor 20 of the 40 students including their tuition but the students will have to cater for their accommodation and feeding. We have got a donation of 50, 000 books from Asian Books in Australia, we have taken delivery of the books in crates for our library. We have put up adverts on the telnet and we are receiving responses. We hope to give opportunities to ladies and to ensure proper mix of nationalities.”