The National Universities Commission, NUC, has scrapped sub-degree diploma programmes in the country’s university system, its Executive Secretary, Abubakar Adamu, said on Monday.Mr. Adamu said universities currently running the programmes have been directed to begin to wind down immediately.
The NUC scribe, who was speaking at the end of a meeting with vice chancellors of federal, state and private universities, also disclosed the plan for a comprehensive review of the university curricula to set the benchmark minimum academic standards.
Besides, he said, a new ranking of Nigerian universities would be released next year, while accreditation of programmes would be conducted in May and November, and resource verification in March, July and December every year.
The meeting also resolved to restart institutional accreditation of part-time programmes and resumption of the Nigerian University System Annual Review Meeting (USARM) as well as consider accreditation of academic programmes by professional bodies.
Equally, shortfalls in personnel emoluments and incorporation of universities into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information Systems (IPPIS) and matters arising from the 2009 agreement between the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) were discussed, he said.
Apart from governance structure and university education component of the Ministerial Action Plan, the meeting urged all universities to develop and implement an institutional research policy and a research administration directorate to co-ordinate research activities in universities.
An appropriate human and material resources are to be provided to run an Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (OIPTT) or Office of Technology Commercialization and Industry Relations (OTCIR).
Mr. Musa said the meeting was aimed at repositioning the NUC to work more closely with the universities for effective quality service delivery, as they render teaching, research and community service.
He explained that the scrapping of university diplomas followed findings that running such programmes was not the business of universities, rather Polytechnics.
“The Federal Government, as far back as November, 2001, had issued a circular stating that such diplomas could not be used for employment or promotion purposes in the Public Service,” he said.
Rather than stretch their facilities to run sub-degree programmes, he said universities should direct their energies towards their primary function of producing high level manpower for the economy, by strengthening their part-time programmes, to offer high quality undergraduate degrees and postgraduate diplomas and degrees.
On review of the university curricula, he said the NUC would engage a mix of old, experienced, and young vibrant academics to come up with curricula that would not only be dynamic and responsive to national needs, but also conform to global trends.
Contrary to criticisms of Nigerian universities’ poor performance in global ranking, he said the managers of the universities were satisfied with the quality of their degrees and graduates.
“Most of our graduates are qualitative and they can hold their own anywhere. Our students from good universities, who make First Class, 2nd Class Upper, and even good 2nd Class Lower, go abroad for their Masters and come back with distinctions and merits” he said.
On university ranking, the NUC Scribe dissociated the Commission from any ranking of Nigerian universities in the media, saying it had not embarked on any such exercise in the last 15 years.