A university don and administrator, Professor Tola Badejo, has identified conditions for the improvement of the dwindling fortunes of Nigerian universities on the global ranking of ivory towers.
Badejo, the vice chancellor of Wesley University of Science and Technology, Ondo, said for Nigerian universities to improve on world ranking, they must urgently define their goals in content and context, as well as aggressively engage in global standard teaching, research, development and public service.
Professor Badejo spoke at the biennial lecture of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Alumni Association, Ekpoma branch, with the theme: “Hurdles to cross by Nigerian universities on the tortuous road to world class status.”
The lecture coincided with the 50th anniversary of the university last week.
Professor Badejo said excellent learning facilities for instruction and training in variety of branches of knowledge, adequate funding, improved quality of management and enabling political environment must be provided for the universities to attain world class status.
According to Badejo, “the time has come for Nigerian universities, irrespective of proprietorship, to seek excellence in all activities and ensure intellectual freedom, operate on a high level and make truth and honesty the watchword.”
He said it was disturbing for vice chancellors of Nigerian universities promising in their mission statements to make their universities one of the best five or 10 in Africa during their five-year tenure, pointing out that wherever such promises existed, the motives were more political than performance.
Professor Badejo noted that none of the 117 universities in Nigeria made it to the top 10 universities in Africa in 2010, as against seven and three from South Africa and Egypt respectively.
He faulted the criteria employed in the ranking of universities, which, he said, were not in favour of Nigerian universities, just as he listed the criteria for assessing university status to include the number of Nobel Laureate produced by such university; quality of faculty; research output in form of research articles which must be published in Nature and Science journals and size of institution.
As solution to the poor ranking of Nigerian universities, Badejo recommended, among others, that university administrators be given the free hand to run the institutions; that funds be provided for lecturers by universities to sponsor publications in foreign journals; and that staff strength be increased in favour of academic staff.
“I don’t foresee any university in Nigerian coming top in Africa in the next five or 10 years unless things are done right now,” he said.
Earlier, chairman on the occasion, Professor Sam Uniamikogbo, had advised all alumni of OAU to put in their best toward nation building and to cultivate hard work as their watchword.