• Admin staff more than teachers
• Only 43 per cent hold Ph.Ds
• Some varsities have only one, two professors
NIGERIANS are mostly aware that many things are not right with the country’s public universities. But what they do not know is just how bad the situation has become.
Graphic details of the extent and dangers of the rot have emerged from the Needs Assessment Report, put together by a 10-member committee set up by the Federal Ministry of Education.
The report revealed that public universities are being grossly mismanaged; engaging in activities at variance with the National Policy on Education; lacking in human and material resources; incapable of supplying the nation’s manpower needs; bogged down by corruption of various kinds; and offering education of poor quality, among others.
The committee, headed by Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, with the former Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) National President, Prof. Ukachukwu Aloysius Awuzie, as member, had 10 terms of reference. The setting up of the committee was part of the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government.
Its scope covered 27 federal and 34 state universities (out of the 74 existing public universities in the country), leaving out only the 10 newly established federal universities and three state-owned: Sokoto State University, North West University, Kano and Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State.
The report revealed that a majority of the universities are grossly understaffed, rely heavily on part-time and visiting lecturers, have under-qualified academics and have no effective staff development programme outside the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) intervention and the Presidential First Class Scholarship programme.
The report affirmed that there are 37,504 academics (83 per cent of which are male) in the country’s public universities, out of which 23,030 or 61 per cent are employed in federal universities, while 14,474 or 39 per cent are in the state-owned universities. The result is a very high teaching staff/student ratio in many universities, with the University of Abuja having a ratio of 1:122 and the Lagos State University (LASU), 1:114.
The report also revealed a serious crisis of manpower. Instead of having 100 per cent academics having doctorates, only 43 per cent have the qualification, while 57 per cent don’t. Besides, only seven universities (Imo State University, Universities of Uyo, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Calabar, National Open University of Nigeria and Ondo State University of Science and Technology) have 60 per cent of their academic staff with Ph.Ds.
The Kano State University of Science and Technology, established in 2001 has only one professor and 25 Ph.D. holders. Kebbi State University of Science and Technology, established in 2006 has only two professors and five Ph.D. holders. The Ondo State University of Science and Technology, established in 2008 has only 29 lecturers. Out of the 37,504 lecturers in the public universities, only 28, 128 or 75 per cent are engaged on full time basis. The remaining 9, 376 or 25 per cent are recycled as visiting adjunct, sabbatical and contract lecturers.
The report also revealed that in the Gombe State University, only four of the 47 professors are full-time while all the 25 readers are visiting. In Plateau State University, 74 per cent of the lecturers are visiting while in the Kaduna State University, only 24 out of the 174 Ph.D. holders are full-time staff.
The report also stated that there are numerically more support than teaching staff in the universities, instead of the other way round, leading to a scenario in which more expenditure is incurred in administration and routine functions than in core academic matters.
Specifically, the report stated that there are 77,511 full-time non-teaching staff members in the country’s public universities, which is twice the total number of full-time teaching staff. In some universities, it was discovered that the non-teaching staff double, triple or quadruple the teaching staff.
The committee discovered that at the University of Benin alone, there are more senior staff in the registrar cadre than professors, while the Obafemi Awolowo University has more senior administrative than teaching staff.
While the report noted that almost all the universities are over-staffed with non-teaching staff, it also stated that in spite of this general glut of non-teaching staff, those that have reached retirement age are still being retained in the university services on contract, while new recruitment continues. And over 70 per cent of the non-teaching staff members do not have first degrees. “This is partly responsible for the ballooning of the non-teaching staff. The implication of this is over-blown personnel cost and misuse of available resources in the university system,” the report submitted.
On students’ enrolment, the report revealed that there are a total of 1,252,913 students in the public universities: 85 per cent are undergraduates; five per cent sub-degree; three per cent postgraduate diploma; five per cent master’s and two per cent Ph.D.
According to the report, 960,132 or 76.6 per cent of this figure are enrolled in 16 federal and nine state universities. Overall, 798,661 students or 63.7 per cent are in federal universities, while 454,252 students or 36.3 per cent are in the state universities. Eight of them - Lagos State University, universities of Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt, and Maiduguri, Ekiti State University and the National Open University of Nigeria account for 33 per cent of total students’ enrolment in Nigeria.
Among the undergraduate students, 33.1 per cent are studying arts and social sciences; 33 per cent – management sciences and education courses; 16 per cent – science and education science courses; five per cent – medicine; 3.9 per cent – agriculture; 1.4 per cent pharmacy and 1.3 per cent law.
To reposition all public universities, the committee made a number of recommendations.
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