The Vice-Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences (UNIMED), Professor Friday Okonofua has ascribed the creation of new generation universities to be the key to national growth and development.
Okonofua revealed this at the 2nd public lecture of the institution titled, “New universities as new opportunities to reform Nigeria’s tertiary education system.”
The don said universities must not be created for political purpose, profit-making, or commercialisation.
“About 250 applications are before the National Universities Commission (NUC) for approval”, Okonofua said.
The Vice-Chancellor mentioned cultism, laziness, unproductivity, examination malpractices and corruption to be the major challenges facing old generation universities, adding that these have negative implications on the society.
“Indeed, establishing a new university must provide an opportunity to reform the university system, rather than being an instrument for self-propagation and self-advertisement. New universities are best placed to take the bold steps necessary to recreate the values of the Nigerian university system to focus on the purpose of tertiary education, which is to drive the social and economic development of our country.”
“The public lecture is designed to share critical knowledge and information on issues relating to health, education and social development to make all stakeholders know the predicaments facing the nation,” Okonofua said.
Also speaking at the event was Oladapo Walker, a Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Babcock University, Ilishan Remo.
The guest speaker, Prof Oladapo Walker said the greatest skill that should be acquired in the university is learning which makes students to build capacity.
However, the reverse is the case in our nation.
According to him, “We are training our graduates to get a job at the end of their education, we are not training them to be innovators, creative thinkers, visionary leaders and entrepreneurs.”
“The driving force behind entrepreneurial institutions is the strong belief that universities are the drivers of economic advancement and development of a country. They are therefore not seen as a pool where government pours in a lot of money and all we get are young people with degrees, but producers of young people who are equipped to be agents of change in the country.”
He also decried the admission crisis rocking the system, where only five to 12 percent of prospective candidates get admitted into the universities.
“Forty-nine percent of these are in the 15 to 54 age group which makes us a country of young people. We have just over a 100 universities. Therefore there is approximately one university for 1.9 million people. Every year, there are more than two million candidates vying for less than 200,000 spaces. Thus, only one in 10 qualified candidates get admitted. There is a big gap of supply with increasing demands every year.”