A former Vice-Chancellor of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Prof. Aminu Salihu Mikailu, has canvassed alternative ways of funding universities.
Mikailu, who was also vice chancellor of Kaduna and Nassarawa state universities, made the call at the weekend.He spoke at the Federal University, Birnin-Kebbi, at a seminar titled “Funding options for sustainable university education in Nigeria.”
According to him, universities need to work hard to sustain tertiary education in the country, in line with global best practices.He appealed to the various authorities to identify innovative entrepreneurship programmes to augment the existing inadequate funding in the tertiary institutions. The don also enjoined the institutions to engage in innovative research for senior academics to promote sustainable university system.
He said: “Universities must identity the need for improved funding through innovation, self-reliance and entrepreneurship, as necessary tools for their survival in the 21st century.
“In addition to government grants, the universities must be allowed to charge appropriate fees to boost their internally generated revenue.”Mikailu identified other problems confronting the universities to include the lack of commitment from proprietors. He lamented that the attitude of proprietors who establish private universities as a source of making profit, has further aggravated the situation.
He also blamed the high cost of capital projects for the inability of universities to upwardly review the salaries and allowances agreed by the Federal Government and labour unions.
“University education occupies a central position in the priority list of countries concerned with excelling in technological and socio-economic progress. This is fully captured in Nigeria’s various national policies on education (2004-2013),” he added.He expressed concern at the future of universities in the country, going by the growing enrolment figures.
The former VC explained that from one university in 1960, to 40 federal varsities, 44 state and 75 privately-owned; institutions in 2017, student enrollment had moved from 360,000 in 2000; to the current well over one million. Mikailu recommended the launch of endowments and linkages; with local and international non-governmental organisations, and provision of special grants; to new varsities as panacea to the challenge.
He cited other solutions to include charging appropriate tuition fees at all levels; investment entrepreneurship and creating consultancy services; units in the institutions.The former Vice-Chancellor further stressed the need to link up; budgetary allocations with three key missions of universities; which are teaching, research and community service.
He maintained that a complete review of existing guidelines would pave way; for greater autonomy of university councils and management in the accounting and application of funds.
The Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University Birnin-Kebbi, Prof. Bello Bala Shehu, expressed appreciation to the former VC and promised; to imbibe the recommendations made at the seminar. He was represented by the immediate past Acting Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Dr. Sahabi Maidamma Jabo.