By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The one-year old Salem University, Lokoja, Kogi State is set to begin the implementation of an initiative which the University of Ibadan that came into existence in 1940s as well as the other first generation universities that were established in the â€˜60s have not toyed with.
The young university owned by Faith Foundation Churches popularly called Salem Chapel is about to introduce double degree programme which will give its students a rare opportunity of graduating with two different bachelorâ€™s degrees after spending just six academic years.
These disclosures were made by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Paul Omojo-Omaji.
According to Omaji, a professor of sociology of law, only students who are of high academic standard will have the opportunity of enrolling for the double degree programme, adding that the students will run the two degree programmes pari-passu.
He explained that only students who are identified as having capacity and intelligence to cope will be encouraged to enrol for it. These students will end up spending only six years to run two degree courses which ordinarily would have taken them eight years to complete, he explains.
The programme also offers the students some financial gain as they will only pay tuition for six years, he says.
According to Prof. Omojo-Omaji, who taught at Austria National University, Canberra for 21 years before Archbishop Sam Amaga, General Overseer of Salem Chapel convinced him to come back home, no university in Nigeria has ever run double degree programme, reminding that what exists in other universities in the country is double major for a degree programme.
He revealed that the management of Salem University have submitted a memorandum to the National Universities Commission (NUC), making case for the double degree programme.
And the NUC, he says, is excited about the programme and has indicated its support for the programme anytime it takes off in the University.
The intention of the university to start post-graduate programme three years ahead of schedule is yet another area where it is set to make history.
The vice chancellor says much of this â€œIn our academic brief, it was stated that we will commence our PG programme after the first set would have graduated. But given the fact that we have 230 students population presently, with four professors on ground, visiting professors and five Ph.D holders, the university has the manpower to teach and supervise Masters and Ph.D students.â€
He continued: â€œAs a result, we are in a process of making a case to NUC to allow us being forward our post-graduate programme earlier than originally planned. We want to bring in active professors who are able to engage in the rigours of academic research as Salem University will pursue innovative research useful to the society and human needs.â€
Although the NUC gave the approval that the university should take off last year with 29 programmes under five colleges, but the management decided to start with 17 programmes under the following three colleges: College of Peace and Social Sciences, College of Information and Communication Technology and College of Applied and Natural Sciences, with only the university having a department of Gender and Women Studies throughout Nigeria.
The Salem University Vice Chancellor explained that the other 12 programmes will come on board as the university expand its facilities and teaching staff.
Omojo-Omaji said: â€œIn the Master Plan of the university, the development of the university is in phases. We have completed 90 per cent of phase 1. Phase 2 involves developing facilities to cater for the expansion of the university and this is the phase we are about implementing now. In the next five years, we are targeting having 5000 students and in the full development of the university, we are expecting to have 10,000 students.â€
On the preparations towards securing NUC accreditation for the existing 17 academic programmes, the Vice Chancellor said: â€œWe are not only focused on programme accreditation but institutional accreditation that will produce global leaders. We are ensuring that we have sufficient classroom space.â€
He continued: â€œWe are developing a library that is of world standard. It is fully connected to the Internet with our students having access to anywhere in the world.
We are putting in place electronic library system. We are about to take delivery of 100 computers and this university is living up to its unique claim of being ICT-driven. Infact, N1.2 billion has already been spent on what is presently on ground in the university.â€