The National Universities Commission (NUC) has warned public universities in the country against abridging the semester following the recent strike that rocked the nation’s university system.
Executive Secretary of NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, who made this known at a media parley on Wednesday in Abuja, said some universities were planning to run a six-week semester to meet up with some of the grounds lost to Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike.
He said the Commission had to warn affected vice-chancellors to desist from such as every semester must run its full course of 17 weeks.
“We have met with the vice-chancellors and we gave them a directive never to go back after this strike and cut short the semester and said because there was a strike for eight months, you are now going to run your second semester in four or five weeks, because you are eager to ensure your students complete (their programme on time),” he said.
While saying the Commission would not compromise on quality assurance of degrees being churned out in the country, the NUC boss said universities would not be allowed to act in a way that would compromise the quality of their certificates.
“We redefined a semester to them; that a semester is a 17-weeks period of teaching and examination. Teaching and examination are to last for 17 weeks. So we don’t want any university to go and complete semester in six weeks which many of them were planning to do,” Rasheed said
Speaking on the performance of Nigerian universities in the international ranking, the NUC boss expressed delight that about 12 universities from the country were recently ranked among the best 1000 in the world by Times University Ranking, United Kingdom.
While saying universities in the country are facing challenges that are preventing them from competing favourably with others from developed countries, Rasheed said they are still doing well, adding that many factors are considered in the ranking process.
“It is not that our universities are too bad that they are not doing well in the international ranking. Of course, many of our universities cannot compete with many foreign universities in terms of faculty, in terms of facilities, in terms of security, and ability to attract international students.
“For example one of the key determinants for any university to do well is the number and nationalities of students. From how many countries do you draw your students? If you go to any good university in the UK they will tell you they have students from 150 countries of the world,” he said.
The Executive Secretary, however, expressed confidence in the Professor Peter Okebukola-led committee on the ranking of Nigerian universities, saying the team has continued to engage international bodies to explore areas where Nigerian universities can leverage to improve their rating and international competitiveness.
Speaking further, the NUC boss lamented the attitude of some Nigerian parents who engage in sending their children to mushroom universities mostly in African countries in order to procure quick degree certificates.
Rasheed cited a recent discovery of a university in Uganda, which run its degree programmes for only about six months, with its student population mainly from Nigeria and South Sudan.
On the recent introduction of a new curriculum in the Nigerian University System – core curriculum and minimum academic standards, Rasheed said the development has prompted the unbundling of some academic programmes and the mode of their delivery.
The NUC boss also revealed that since assuming office in 2016, no fewer than 75 universities have been licensed, adding that Nigeria now boasts 220 universities with privately-owned accounting for 111 while states have 59 and the federal 50.