From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has concluded a review of the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) for University education in Nigeria.
NUC said the BMAS was revised to Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) with the programme experts and industry stakeholders.
The Commission said that CCMAS provides 70 per cent of what should be taught along with the expected outcomes, while the universities will make contributions based on their individual contextual peculiarities and characteristics.
Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, disclosed the information in Abuja, on Thursday, during the presentation of provisional operational certificate to proprietors 12 newly licensed private universities.
The newly licensed private universities are Pen Resource University, Gombe, Gombe State; Al-Ansar University Maiduguri, Borno State; Margaret Lawrence University, Galilee, Delta State; Khalifa Isiyaku Rabiu University, Kano, Kano State; Sports University, Idumuje, Ugboko, Delta State; Baba Ahmed University, Kano, Kano State.
Others are Saisa University of Medical Sciences and Technology, Sokoto, Sokoto State; Nigerian British University, Asa, Abia State; Peter University, Achina/Onneh, Anambra State; Newgate University, Minna, Niger State; European University of Nigeria, Duboyi, Abuja, FCT; and Northwest University, Sokoto, Sokoto State.
The NUC boss, in his remarks, disclosed that the number of private universities in Nigeria has risen to 111 and 215 universities in Nigeria, stressing that the number is insignificant when compared to growing population and increasing quest for university education.
He confessed that private universities have brought certain uniqueness to the Nigerian university landscape, disclosing that Federal Ministry of Education, through NUC has embarked on the radical re-engineering of curricula in Nigerian Universities to meet global standards and international best practices towards preparing Nigerian graduates for relevance in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) world economy with the skills needed for the future.
He said the establishment of more private universities, under the strict supervision of the NUC, is also an important antidote to the proliferation of illegal universities or degree mills across the country, which has become a major source of worry and embarrassment to the nation, and a menace to quality university education delivery.
He, thus enjoined the newly licensed universities to acquaint themselves with the code of governance for private universities in Nigeria which aims to enhance the successful running and sustainability of institutions.
Prof. Rasheed confirmed that the code of governance has been reviewed to give some latitude to the Proprietors on the issue of appointment of Principal Officers, while the document outlined the approved governance structure within a private university.
He added: “It also contains penalty for breach of the code, hence we continue to re-emphasise and stress that the venture of establishing private universities is not for profit but journey of passion.”
He, consequently, encouraged the Proprietors to ensure that quality is not compromised for profit motives, as any operation outside the provisions of NUC guidelines will attract appropriate sanctions, and if found out during the probationary period, a withdrawal of the provisional license may apply.
“My advice to you therefore is, if or when in doubt, seek counsel from NUC. The appendix attached to the letter of approval of provisional licence lists the academic programmes with which you are to commence academic activities.
“You are expected to mount only those programmes at take-off and invite NUC for resource verification. Any deviation from those without the approval of NUC will attract sanctions which may include withdrawal of the provisional license.
“Mentoring institutions have been approved for the newly approved private universities with clear terms of reference to both the mentor and the mentee. NUC will moderate the mentoring relationship to ensure that the mentor-mentee relationship is as it should be,” he promised.
Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, in his remarks, congratulated the new universities for successfully passing through the crucible of the 14 step process to earn the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
He reiterates the Federal Government’s commitment to the strengthening of NUC’s quality assurance operations to ensure that, while they are improving access to University education by way of increased enrolment, quality and relevance to national needs are not compromised.
“I continue to follow with keen interest the activities of the NUC at sanitising the system, and the boldness with which the Commission has approached its mandate of quality assurance, as the sole regulatory agency of University education in the country, by law.
“Being critical stakeholders in the education sector, we should be united in seeking ways of improving quality service delivery of University education in Nigeria, devise strategies for quality improvement and elimination of social vices, as well as maintaining industrial peace and harmony for sustainable growth,” he said.