Following the exclusion of Nigerian graduates from a new United Kingdom visa- High Potential Individual Visa, reactions have trailed the development, with many linking the cause to the persistent school closures, especially the strike actions of the Academic Staff Union of Universities.
The PUNCH had reported on Friday that a new UK visa excluded Nigerian university graduates from applying for the jobs based on the requirement that graduates applying must be from any of the universities in the top 50 global rankings.
The PUNCH gathered reactions from some stakeholders in Nigerian universities.
The Chairman of ASUU, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife branch, Dr. Adeola Egbedokun, noted that Nigerian degrees were not inferior to those of counterparts abroad, adding that lecturers in Nigeria were equally qualified to teach outside the country.
However, he said, “Nevertheless, the difference is in the process and facilities with which teaching and learning are done and this is the matter ASUU has been pursuing for decades. Because facilities are not readily available in our universities, infrastructures are not maintained among many other challenges, whereas the ranking of universities is dependent on such criteria and many others.
“The incessant strikes, foisted on ASUU by the government, have always resulted in unstable calendars, calling to question the duration of degree programmes in Nigeria.”
“If the government had not been paying lip service to the demands of ASUU over the years, we would not have experienced the rots we have in the universities and such UK authorities wouldn’t have exempted our graduates,” Egbedokun told The PUNCH.
He urged that the Nigerian government should urgently listen to the demands of ASUU, adding that the “deafness of Nigerian government is really hampering the chances of our graduates abroad. ”
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A Research Associate Professor of Governance and Politics at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Kayode Eesuola, in his reaction, said, “the UK has the statistics of Nigerian universities’ graduates that drive the country’s economy in professions ranging from Medicine to Engineering and IT. The statistics will hardly support or warrant such discrimination. That’s the mischief part.
“The reality part is that one cannot deny that Nigerian universities are underfunded and underequipped in material and human resources, consequences of which are the incessant ASUU strikes the country currently faces. Apparently, the students become the victims as they lack concentration and state-of-the-art training in comparison to their peers elsewhere. Their finishing qualities will be affected,” Eesuola said.
Speaking further, he noted that it wasn’t given that the training grounds determined the quality of graduates, adding that the United States had “some of the best football and athletics training institutions and equipment in the world, but the best marathoners and footballers come from other countries.” He added that this was evident in the Nigerians that were doing well in their careers abroad.
He concluded that the Nigerian government should “understand and appreciate the wider implications of ASUU’s struggle for the revitalisation of education in Nigeria, for only that will improve the rating (not necessarily quality) of our graduates globally.”
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A lecturer who deals with Hydrology and Geographic Information System at the Department of Geography in OAU, Dr. Bayo Eludoyin, on his part, noted that lecturers now sponsored researches with their salaries while students lacked grants for their researches too.
“I do not find the decision to be a surprising one. We definitely are not in the first 50. I am not sure that any university in Nigeria is in the top 800 or 1000, depending on whose ranking we use.”
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Speaking further, he said, “Nigerian public university system has a long way to go before they can rank even in 500th position. Forget the so-called ABUAD or Covenant University’s ranking but ask about the basis for the ranking. Is it on students’ satisfaction, research output, or specific programmes? The basis differs and the ranking is specific. Nonetheless, I think there are lots of things that are wrong with the administration of teaching and learning in Nigerian public universities, and many private universities may do better in some of these areas, including some selective facilities and lecturer-student relationships.
Dr. Eludoyin urged for autonomy in public universities to allow competitiveness, adding that most successful universities abroad were autonomous.
A Masters graduate of OAU, Ogumah Andrew Segun, said that the quality of teaching in public universities should not make anyone argue over the criteria of the UK.
“I do think that we can’t blame the UK for her criteria for admission into their country particularly on certificate or qualifications. I think we should blame ourselves for the poor level of attention we give to education in our country.
“Today, practically no federal university in the country has a functional laboratory. Part of what the ASUU is fighting for is the revitalisation fund to improve the facilities on our campuses. Why are we not going to be in the lowest ranking level when today the endowment for the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, alone, is more than the entire Nigeria budget in the last five years!” Ogumah said.
“What is the quality of the teaching in our public universities that we want to argue that we should be included?” He asked.
Another student activist at the University of Lagos, Adeyeye Olorunfemi, said, “The blame for this debacle must be dumped at the doorstep of the government. The question is why don’t we rank well globally?
“I disagree with some who say that our lecturers can’t deliver quality, that’s why the UK wouldn’t be issuing visas to Nigerian graduates. Many of our lecturers also lecture abroad and their expertise is not in doubt.”
“In practical terms, how do you come out as a proper learned person when you spend one month in class and the next three months at home or on the streets due to incessant ASUU strikes?
“How will such an arrangement rank well globally? It’s not possible,” Adeyeye added.
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