By Oyeyinka Fabowale
The depressing state of university education can only persist unless the Federal Government hands off and grants the campuses full autonomy in the running of their affairs.
This was the submission of the Founder/President of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola while making remarks at the 2019 convocation lecture kick-starting a series of events to mark the 10th anniversary and 7th graduation ceremony of the university in the Ekiti State capital yesterday.
Babalola’s view is a reiteration of former Chief Medical Director of the University College Hospital (UCH), Prof Temitope Alonge, who delivered the convocation lecture at the University’s multipurpose auditorium.
Aare Babalola regretted that government’s overarching control and involvement in their governance, funding, and admission policies were hampering universities’ capabilities to delivering on their mandate at developing quality human capital for national growth.
According to the foremost educationist, with numerous, diverse and competing responsibilities and poor finances, government could not effectively fund and manage the institutions in such a way as to foster standards.
He cited poor funding, at the heart of inadequate academic facilities and perennial industrial crises with the attendant disruption of academic calendar, and determination of admission criteria etc, as some of the factors limiting quality university education in the country.
To bail the university and the nation out, Babalola said government would have to remove its stranglehold and grant the institutions full autonomy. Such should include the freedom to hire and fire staff, set criteria for admtting students and be self funding.
The ABUAD founder said the nation’s university system would witness a positive turnaround with these measures.
Prof Alonge, who entitled his lecture “The Pearl Among the Pack”, noted that ABUAD has within the short space of it’s existence, emerged a model and shining light among what he called the “brittle clay towers” that the nation’s supposed ivory towers had become, citing the massive infrastructure, quality of staff and phenomenal achievements of the institution and its students in the industry as well as local and global academic circles.
A representative of the National Universities Commission (NUC), told the audience including guests, top officials, students and their parents, that the commission would forward the salient recommendaions highlighted by the convocation lecturer to policy makers for consideration.
The institution’s Senate building was also commissioned.
The ceremony continues today with a convocation service and a night of awards during which four books including one chronicling the making of the university will be launched.
Renowned musician, King Sunny Ade, will entertain guests at the event, tagged the Founder’s Day Night.
Also, four eminent Nigerians including the Sultan of Sokoto, the Obi of Onitsha, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and former Executive Secretary, NUC, Prof Peter Okebukola will be decorated with the University’s honorary degrees in recognition of their services and contributions to the country tomorrow when new graduands will be confered with Bachelor and postgraduate degrees of the institution.