Gov. Oluwarotimi Akerdolu of Ondo State on Friday appealed to stakekeholders and well-meaning Nigerians to help bridge the funding gap of government-owned universities, for sustainable economic development.
Akeredolu, who was represented by Dr Omowunmi Ilawole, his Special Adviser on Education, made the appeal at the 1st Foundation Day Lecture of the State University of Science and Technology (OSUSTECH) in Okitipupa.
The lecture was titled: “University Funding and Nation Building: Bridging the Gap between the Gown and the Town.’’
He explained that the dwindling resources being experienced in Nigeria of recent had made it impossible for government to solely fund university education in the country.
“If the stakeholders in Education do not support the government in funding university education, it will be impossible to bridge the gap between the gown and the town,” Akeredolu said.
Meanwhile, the guest lecturer, Dr James Kayode-Naiyeju, blamed the slow pace of development in Nigeria on poor funding of Universities.
The don said that most developed countries had much stake in funding universities, which he noted, was the panacea to nation-building.
According to him, Nigeria, as a signatory to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), is still unable to meet the organisation’s recommended 26 per cent allocation of the total budget to Education.
Dr Kayode-Naiyeju, a former Accountant-General of the Federation, said that a country was classified as developed when it is able to provide qualitative life for its citizenry.
He stated that institutions of higher learning which were the midwives of human-capital development, had tremendous roles to play in nation-building by enriching science, engineering, technology, humanities and the arts, and providing value-based education to students.
“Universities dedicated to learning, teaching and research are essential building blocks of any civilisation, and are increasingly becoming significant economic institutions.
“Universities, therefore, need to meet their full economic costs of teaching and conducting research, which include costs of academic and non-academic staff, training of postgraduate research students, equipment, fieldwork and laboratory services.
“Funding has remained a critical factor in the provision of functional education that can lead to national transformation.
“Inadequate funding puts university management under stress and strain, leading to rampant crisis in the system, resulting in strikes by academic and non-academic unions,” he said.
The don, however, said that government should show commitment to budgetary allocation to education, through its agencies like the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), among others.
He also said payment of tuition fees, corporate social responsibility, commercial activities on campuses, commercialisation of accommodation, endowment funds, consultancy services and part-time programmes, were other ways of funding education.
Earlier, Prof. Sunday Ogunduyile, the Vice-Chancellor, OSUSTECH, said that university funding had been a centre-point of discourse and had yet to be laid to rest.
He said that the government and stakeholders in the educational sector should brainstorm and come out with a logical conclusion on university funding for the country to stand tall in the comity of nations.