Abuja – The Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’I, has expressed  optimism that the new nine federal universities would take off in September.

Speaking  in Abuja at the two-day retreat for Vice-Chancellors and Registrars of the newly-established universities, organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the minister said that the retreat was to acquaint the vice-chancellors and other officials with the NUC guidelines on the universities and to ensure that the institutions have a smooth take-off.

“What we are doing is to ensure that these vice-chancellors are aware, even though most of them are former vice-chancellors, that they have more responsibilities.

“We want to ensure that we acquaint them with the proper procedures of NUC, the guidelines and minimum benchmark,’’ she said.

According to her, the Federal Government has directed that each of the new universities should not have more than 500 students at a time.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Executive Secretary, Education Trust Fund (ETF), said the retreat would ensure the vice-chancellors and registrars are updated on certain processes in the university system.

He listed the processes to include procedure for accreditation, financial regulations, public procurement processes, procedures for accessing ETF funds and governance issues in the universities.

In his remarks, Prof. Julius Okojie, NUC’s Executive Secretary, said the retreat would assist the participants on how to relate with their host communities.

Represented by Mr Akinbode Agbaoye, the Deputy Executive Secretary of NUC, Okojie noted that some of the vice-chancellors are Nigerians who were brought back home from the Diaspora.

One of the participants, Prof. Jubrila Amin, Vice-Chancellor, University of Dutse, said the universities were prepared to meet the challenges of running tertiary institutions.

He disclosed that his institution’s temporary site was already undergoing renovation to keep to the September take-off date.

The federal government had in February 2011 approved the nine new universities with a take-off grant of N1.5 billion per university. (NAN)

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