Are Nigerian universities of technology fulfilling their mandate? – Punch Newspapers

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The universities of technology are just living up to their names and not their mandate because from the beginning, those who set them up also aborted the reasons for setting them up. How can you carry out technology in a place where there is no electricity? What technological development can you bring to bear where there is no light? The infrastructure is not there to work.
Another issue is basic training that has been passed on to people in this country. Which early man technology is still standing today? When we were growing up, you would find iron casters; people were able to amend things in a very local way in the villages. Are they still there now? Did people not use sludge from palm oil production to provide light? We are just groping in the dark; there is no pattern, no plan and no direction. The solution is for us to look at our curricula again. The universities need to look at what they are teaching. An enabling environment should also be provided for them to operate well. We should step away from classical teaching. •Prof. Julius Iyasele (Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, University of Benin)
I can say definitely that the universities of technology have not fulfilled their mandate. These universities have not impacted on their immediate environment as they have not been able to deliver on their expected mandates. If they had, I think, Nigeria by now would have been classified as a technologically-advanced country. This boils down to the manpower they are developing and the quality and kind of research works they are doing. This means that the quality of training the institutions give to people is low because the training is not relevant to the current needs of the nation. If we want to check the records, how many inventions in terms of technology have come from these universities of technology? I think we have not really heard much in that regard.
Most Nigerians that have invented things that are technological are those that were either trained abroad or those that had their first degrees in Nigeria and then moved overseas, where they found fulfilment for their ideas.
Talking about the courses these institutions offer, they may be good in terms of name, but in terms of content, they are not really focusing on solving technological problems of the country. If these were not so, we would not need to be importing expatriates to come in to provide solution to most of our technological needs. If we look at these institutions in terms of the quantity, yes, they produce a lot of graduates, but in terms of quality — especially about their impact and effect on the Nigerian economy, they are not doing much. Besides, the training is not related to the environment we operate.
We may want to know how up-to-date teachers in these institutions are. They cannot give what they don’t have. How are these institutions funded? Do they have regular funding? If they have, what about the management of these funds? I still believe that the way we run universities in Nigeria today is not sustainable. The universities need to create funds, maybe with support from the government, in the form of grants, but the university does not need to be totally dependent on the government for funding. If the universities of technology were doing their best, they would be getting money from their inventions and innovations. In summary, the universities of technology in Nigeria still require to move beyond where they are today because their level of delivery is far from optimum. •Prof. Gabriel Umoh (Lecturer, University of Uyo)
The universities of technology are fulfilling their mandate in the sense that they are producing very good graduates. They are performing well. However, both the private and public sectors are not making use of these products from the universities of technology. So, it is not the fault of those teachers who produce very good graduates; it is the fault of both the government and the private sector.

They (public and private sectors) have not created enough jobs for these graduates. You can find some of these graduates in the banking sector; you can also find some of them in the sectors that are not related to the degrees they have been awarded. The fault is not in the universities, the fault is in the system itself.
For instance, you produce scientists, technologists and so on, and you are not employing them in places like refineries, iron and steel industry and other places where such products are needed; you just produce them and tell them that they should help themselves. There has to be a holistic approach by the government.
Yes, you gave the universities the mandate to produce science-based graduates. They (universities) have done their own part; it is left for the government to be dynamic in providing jobs for them. The government must provide avenues to employ its graduates so that they don’t roam about. The government should not say that there is no avenue for job creation for these graduates in the 21st Century that is driven by the digital revolution. •Prof. Tunde Fatunde (Lecturer, Lagos State University)
My understanding of higher education generally is that the institutions are supposed to give not just degrees, but the basic intellectual solutions to the needs of the country. When you look to Nigerian universities and specialised universities like those in technology, you cannot say they have fulfilled their mandates. The Nigerian public universities are reneging on their responsibilities. Apart from a few old-generation universities, such as the University of Ibadan, the Ahmadu Bello University, the University of Lagos, Obafemi Awolowo University, Bayero University Kano, and a few others which are funded by the Federal Government, you see all others facing a major problem of funding. These universities have not been developing, particularly in the critical areas of manpower and research. They are nothing to write home about. The establishment of private universities and some state universities is nothing but something close to a joke. We have to revamp the education sector. This is the way forward. •Dr. Junaid Mohammed (Elder statesman/ public commentator)

There is a problem in Nigeria and this same problem has crept into our universities of technology. The main purpose for the establishment of these universities by the government is to lay a solid foundation for the technological advancement of this country. But what do we have now? These universities of technology are now offering courses in management, humanities and all that. But thank God for the new scribe of the National Universities Commission; he is working seriously to address that.
Their focus should be on engineering and technology related courses. Universities of Agriculture should focus on agriculture and how to address the problems related to agriculture and universities of technology should focus on engineering and technology courses; they should stop admitting students into courses that have no bearing to their mandate.
If this is done, I believe they will start to refocus their energy on how to fulfil their mandate.

Let us not forget that funding is a serious problem affecting universities in this country. This problem affects all our universities and these universities of technology inclusive.
Research fund is not adequate. Research funding for universities has been going down on a yearly basis and this must be addressed. So, if there is an improvement in funding and researchers have access to funds which they can use to carry out research into finding solutions to our technological problems and these universities have the equipment they need; and power supply is constant, I believe they will perform better and the nation will be proud of them. •Prof. Olalere Adeyemi (Dean, College of Natural Sciences, Redeemer’s University)
The truth of the matter is that the Federal Government has about four universities of technology; they were positioned for specific roles. The universities include the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUT Owerri, FUT Minna and FUT Yola. These universities were created not at the same time, but with the same mandate. To a large extent, some of them are fulfilling their roles as universities of technology. Universities of technology are created to solve immediate problems in their own locality.  But somehow, some of them have deviated because of funding and other issues to enlarge their capacities. I think they are fulfilling their mandate, but they need to be encouraged to fulfil their roles better.
For example, you find that some of them have been positioned, like FUT Owerri, to solve the problem of the South-East; FUT Akure was to solve the problem of the South Western region; FUT Minna  to solve the problem of the Middle Belt; and the FUT Yola for the northern zone. I will say that they have somehow deviated for economic reasons. •Prof. Debo Adeyewa (Chairman, Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities)
Compiled by: Femi Makinde, Success Nwogu, Chukwudi Akasike, Alexander Okere, Etim Ekpimah and Olaleye Aluko.
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