THE Federal Government has directed all the first generation universities in the country to focus more on postgraduate programmes.
This is even as President Goodluck Jonathan pledged to, from next year, offer scholarship to about 500 university graduates to pursue their masters and PhD programmes in Nigerian universities and overseas, as part of efforts to address the challenge of inadequate qualified academic staff in the university system.
Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Julius Okojie, made this known in Abuja, on Monday, while speaking at a roundtable on Cross Border Higher Education Strategic Partnership, organised by the commission and British Council.
The universities are University of Ibadan (UI); University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN); Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife; University of Lagos and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
Professor Okojie lamented that recent needs assessment of Nigerian universities revealed that more than 60 per cent academic staff are without PhD, a development, he said, must be checked.
He maintained that PhD degree was required for an individual to be considered a full fledged academic in good standing.
As part of the efforts to deal with the problem, Okojie said the Federal Government, through the commission, had ordered the first generation universities to concentrate more resources and effort on postgraduate programmes, with less emphasis on the undergraduate programmes, so as to fast track the production of postgraduate students, especially PhD holders.
He added that the government had, through Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund), set up a funding mechanism under the Teacher Development and Training programme, to fully sponsor academic staff to pursue masters and PhD programmes in Nigeria and overseas.
The NUC boss, however, cautioned the governors of Kano and Osun states over sponsoring many students to one country for higher qualifications which, it noted, would not promote diversity of knowledge.
The Deputy Director of British Council, Amir Ramzan, noted that there were many Nigerian lecturers without PhD degrees, adding that cross border tertiary education strategic partnership could help solve the problem.