“The Minister on behalf of the Federal Government will today present a Certificate of Registration to the Congress of Nigerian Scholars (CONUA). With this, ASUU can cease to exist again in our Universities” (The source). That’s a very bad idea. Yes, any playbook to disband ASUU for another clone is nonsense. Without repairing the root cause, the new CONUA will meet the same fate as the ASUU.
What is my proposal? Reduce administrative costs by pruning dozens of our federal universities into 12 universities with two in each of the geopolitical zones. If you do this, the university system will save nearly 37% of its total operating budgets. When this happens, even without new funds from the largely empty national treasury, schools will have excess cash to run their operations.
Of course, that doesn’t stand a chance because ASUU members want to be vice-chancellors, deans, etc. But if they visit Rwanda, they will see that schools can magically get “more funds” through reorganization.
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Rwanda copied the University of California system. In this system, a person oversees UC’s world-renowned academic system consisting of 10 universities, five medical schools, three nationally affiliated laboratories, more than 280,000 students, and 230,000 faculty and staff. Most of these universities are ranked in the top 50 worldwide: UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, etc.
Run the numbers – one person manages 280,000 students or 50% of the total enrollment in the Nigerian university system. The total capacity of public universities in Nigeria is less than 1.5 million students, but you have over 100 vice chancellors translating an average of 15,000 students per chancellor!
As the controversy between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) nears its eighth month, the government has decided to replace the union with its splinter faction.
Daily Trust reports that the Congress of Nigerian Academics (CONUA), a splinter faction of ASUU, has been officially registered as a union in a bid to reopen academic activities in public universities.
According to the report, a source at the Ministry of Labor and Employment revealed on Tuesday that the Minister of Labor and Employment, Chris Ngige, will present a registration certificate to the new union before the end of the day.
In the southeast, FUTO may be UNN’s engineering campus with no vice-chancellor, pro-chancellor, etc., but just a dean or provost. Fed Agriculture Umudike becomes the agricultural school of UNN. As in the Californian system that Rwanda copied, you end up having only two vice-chancellors who will run all the federal universities in the SE. You save costs on cars, accommodation, etc. and these will go into real learning. Interestingly, like in the California system, you increase registrations. Think about it, if Amazon has a CFO (CFO) to serve over 1 million workers, why should every university have a fellow when 1-2 can manage per geopolitical region?
Comment on the stream
Comment 1: Ndubuisi Ekekwe Sir, I suggest you request an audience and choose the brains of the vice-chancellor of FUTMINNA (who has only 55 days left in office).
I anchored an alumni program for their alumni on Saturdays. October 1 and Professor Abdullahi Bala blew me away – His eloquence, his analysis of the issues and the real contribution of the federal government. opened the eyes of everyone present. Either way, many were led to believe the government was underfunding the university until we heard it on Saturday. Ask him about the TET Fund.
Based on his revelation, I would dare say that merging the universities as you have proposed will be a disaster if a vice-chancellor struggles to manage each and has to worry about generating revenue to compensate for the gaps in cost between what they get from FG and their IGR.
My answer: Since we don’t know, there is no way to answer. But if I may say so, what happened at FUTMinna compared to other universities in Nigeria? Can you share? I understand that FUTMinna increased the fees to have more resources.
“I would dare say that merging universities as you have proposed will be a disaster” – maybe in Nigeria, but in the US one person manages 280,000 students when we have an average of 15,000 students per chancellor . Also note that Rwanda copied this model and it worked very well.
“So far many have been led to believe that the government is underfunding the university ‘our schools are underfunded. Harvard University’s budget is at least 3x the total budget of the Ministry of Education in Nigeria. This is underfunding!
Comment 2: Pr Ndubuisi Ekekwe; you have stated one of the best solutions, but you have written that it has no chance of being accepted, it is the complexity of our society. I quote:
“Of course, that doesn’t stand a chance because ASUU members want to be vice-chancellors, deans, etc.”
What you didn’t mention is that which of the tribes will allow universities in their areas to be abolished or turned into satellite campuses?
Most federal and state universities were created to settle political considerations/agitations.
Also remember that some states were created not for sustainability but by political necessity.
Comment 3: I am for the federal government reducing the cost of education and reducing the size of the administration, but we have to be careful not to put the cart before the wheel… the most important issues we should ask us are…why this year after year…the Nigerian state budget for education has been nothing but laughter? As Thandika Mkandawire has said, “African universities should run while others walk if we are to turn our universities into laboratories of innovation”.
What happened to all state revenues? This administration’s relentless borrowing has been used to fix exactly what in Nigeria.. The Ottoman Turks had a saying that “The fish rots from the head”.. we need to start tackling the major issues and not focus on the symptoms. (of which the current FG-ASUU crisis is nothing more than a symptom of a wider institutional decline). My people said “Adighi ahapu isi aka were gbawa olionu”
My answer: My post assumes that Nigeria has no additional capacity to add additional naira to what it is currently contributing. So the game is to rearrange or lift the veil on education grants. The latter will be bad.
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