9th February, 2011
Students of many universities in the federation have expressed fears over the National UniversitiesÂ Commission (NUC)’s move to crack down on institutions with un-accredited courses.
While the NUC has already dis-accredited some courses in some universities, more courses may loseÂ accreditation when the regulatory body begins a fresh round of visits to the institutions by March.
Among the universities which have lost accreditation of courses are Ladoke Akintola University ofÂ Technology (LAUTECH), University of Benin, Igbinedion University, Madonna University, University ofÂ Abuja, Lead City University and Lagos State University (LASU).
Parents and Students are frightened as hopes of scheduled graduation dims or even fade away in theÂ face of the uncertainty of how long it would take to resolve the crisis. Authorities of the affectedÂ institutions are also running around to find a way out.
The situation has led to accusations between students and their school authorities on one hand, andÂ the NUC on the other hand. The students and the authorities are accusing the regulatory authority ofÂ high handedness. Amid the trading of blame, the NUC has absolved itself of any guilt in the crisis.
Its spokesman, Mr. Ibrahim Usman Yakassai, said only students whose schools started their programmesÂ without interim approval would lose everything.
According to him, there would have been no problem with universities if they followed NUC regulations,Â which require interim approval for a course, before they admit students.
By NUC regulations, if there is a problem with a course with an interim approval, the students will beÂ allowed to finish their academic pursuit while the institution will be ordered to stop furtherÂ admission for the course.
Yakassai said students who were admitted to study courses without interim approval would have to holdÂ the authorities of their universities responsible, because as a quality assurance body, the NUC couldÂ not be held responsible for their fate.
The case of Ola (surname withheld), a medical student at LAUTECH typifies the dilemma of students ofÂ the affected universities.
In 2004, when he received the letter of provisional admission from LAUTECH to read medicine, Ola hadÂ his plans well laid out. In his mind, he saw himself becoming a medical doctor by the turn of 2011.Â But seven years after, his plan has become a mirage.
He is not even sure how long it would take him to finish what ordinarily should have been a seven-yearÂ course, no thanks to the incessant crisis in the school and the lingering face-off between the twoÂ owner states â€”Oyo and Osun.
There has been no meaningful academic programme in the school for about one year as the two ownerÂ states flex muscles over whether to go their separate ways or not.
And to worsen the crisis, the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Medical and Dental Council ofÂ Nigeria (MDCN) have suspended the accreditation granted the Faculty of Medical Sciences of theÂ university for its medical course.
The two bodies had hammered LAUTECH for exceeding its quota for medical students just as it did toÂ Igbinedion University.
According to investigation, the institution, which only got approval to train not more than 75Â medical students, turned out over 170 graduates. It was learnt that the institution exceeded its quotaÂ because it had to present two sets of medical students for their final examinations.
As things now stand, the fate of Ola, who is now in his 400 level, hangs in the balance, as nobodyÂ knows when the crisis in the school would be resolved. Many times, he has considered transferring hisÂ studentship to another university where he feels he can complete his course in good time; but he knowsÂ that will be hard as it is against convention for a medical student to transfer his studentship.
The ownership crisis has stalled efforts to find a solution to the suspension of the accreditation ofÂ medical science in the institution as the governors of the two owner-states, Governor AdebayoÂ Alao-Akala of Oyo State and Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun are yet to reach a compromise on theÂ ownership tussle.
While Oyo wants to take over the school because the main campus is located in Ogbomoso, and OsunÂ already owns a university (Osun State University), Osun is insisting that it will not allow itsÂ counterpart to appropriate LAUTECH as the institution belongs to the two states. There are manyÂ students in Olaâ€™s position. Some have been caught in the web of power play between authorities, whileÂ others are pitted against NUC over accreditation of courses.
Such is the fate of students of Lead City University, Ibadan, where about 5,000 students risk wastingÂ their time studying law, nursing or engaging in any postgraduate studies if the NUC carries out itsÂ threat to axe these programmes.
At the Lagos State University (LASU), out of the 68 academic programmes it is running at theÂ undergraduate level, 10 have been denied accreditation by the NUC.
The dreams of thousands of students may be shattered and ambitions crushed in the face of theÂ uncertainties that becloud their academic programmes. Those who had hoped to graduate in their earlyÂ 20s soon discovered to their disappointment that it may not be possible. Not because they areÂ intellectually incompetent, but they have been caught in the vortex of power play between twoÂ elephants.
Hard hit are law students and graduates of Lead City University as the NUC has declared the programmeÂ illegal and directed that no individuals or organizations should recognize the law degree issued toÂ graduates from the university.
The regulatory authority also ordered the institution to close down its law and postgraduateÂ programmes within two weeks or risk the withdrawal of its licence. The university has graduated twoÂ sets of law graduates who have participated in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service CorpsÂ (NYSC) and there are some 600 students waiting to complete their law programme.
At the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), pioneer medical students, who are now at 300 level, have beenÂ stuck in a class due to the refusal of the NUC and MDCN to accredit their course. The same fate hasÂ befallen their junior mates.
Relief is on the way for LASU as its owner, the Lagos State Government, is shopping for N3.022 billionÂ for accreditation of the courses. Already, Governor Babatunde Fashola has forwarded to the State HouseÂ of Assembly a request that this yearâ€™s Appropriation Bill be jacked up by N3.022 billion to ensureÂ that the university is fully prepared by March when NUC officials are expected in LASU to accredit itsÂ courses.
A consultant psychiatrist at LAUTECH, Dr. Adeoye Oyewole, however, warned that the nation may beÂ sitting on a keg of gunpowder if the crises in the affected institutions are not quickly resolved. InÂ his psychoanalysis of prolonged studentship that those attending the troubled universities could beÂ subjected to, Oyewole said many of them could fall into depression and suffer its attendant medicalÂ consequences.
According to him, some of the female students could resort to prostitution, not only for pecuniaryÂ benefits, but to kill the boredom foisted on them by the crisis, while the male one can opt for otherÂ social vices.