THE recently appointed Needs Assessment Team by the Federal Government on public universities in the country has decried what it called near lack of infrastructure at the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA).
The Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFund) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who led the delegation, expressed shock at the paucity of basic infrastructure, especially for the teaching and learning in the sciences. Of particular concern to the committee was the fate of 100 students studying veterinary medicine and 400 students studying various engineering courses. For instance, the committee discovered that the students studying veterinary medicine were being taught by 45 lecturers without a functional laboratory for practical, neither does the programme have the requisite approvals from the National Universities Commission, (NUC).
According to him, “part of the problem over a long period of time is complete absence of planning. Programmes were established without accreditation by anybody. They have students that cannot graduate as you have seen here and probably elsewhere and then we have looked at the infrastructural facilities here and the learning resources, there is something that we need to do and government is committed, that is why government is saying there will not be additional money committed unless and until we know precisely what we are funding.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Prof. Tunde Ajagunna, who had earlier briefed the delegation, said the situation was responsible for the non-graduation of students from the faculty, some of whom have been forced to spend eight years for a programme, which ordinarily should run for five years.
He said the Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), which is the regulatory body charged with accrediting such programme, insisted that such a laboratory was an irreducible pre-requisite for graduating students from such a programme.
He further explained that there were currently three batches of students in the faculty waiting to be graduated. Ajagunna could not state categorically when the students would graduate, as there is no laboratory in place yet.
The situation was worse at the Faculty of Engineering where only 10 students have been graduated even without the approval of the NUC and the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).
The team was informed that as a result of lack of accreditation of the courses by NUC, the faculty had stopped admitting students for the past two years, even though there were still about 400 students yet to graduate with 35 lecturers.
Commenting on the issue, President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU), Prof. Ukachukwu Awuzie, who was on the team, said the University of Abuja was supposed to be the epitome, the best in this country because of its strategic location. “Unfortunately it is not attaining that level because of poor planning and the under-funding we have always emphasized. Again, you have some money budgeted for you, and you start a project and you find out you cannot complete it.”
According to him, members of the committee were in the university “to see for themselves the agony of our children who have stayed here for several years and cannot graduate. It is painful.”
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