By Michael Eboh
abuja—Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF, yesterday, said it had cut down the number of partner universities in the United Kingdom to 15, from 60 and also suspended requests for extension in scholarship programmes beyond the stipulated period.
Speaking at the 2018/2019 PTDF Overseas Scholarship Scheme for MSc and PhD scholars under the United Kingdom Strategic Partnership in Abuja, Executive Secretary of the PTDF, Mr. Aliyu Gusau, said henceforth, scholars must endeavour to complete their programmes within the stipulated time, as the fund would no more condone any form of extension, except in ‘extenuating circumstances.’
He said, “We won’t accept requests for extension anymore from scholars. This means that you must finish within the stipulated time, which is about 36 months for PhD scholars and something a bit similar for those going for MSc programmes. The PTDF will not accept extension requests except in extenuating circumstances.
“The universities have allocated timelines for courses. So it is not as if it is an open-ended thing, because each university has a specific time for you to complete a course. For this particular scholarship programme, we have about 122 MSc students and 76 PhD scholars for the UK.”
Speaking on the reduction in the number of partnering UK universities, Gusau explained that the move was to strengthen the PTDF and help reduce the huge cost spent on scholarship programmes.
He said, “Before we allowed students to go round the UK, pick any university of their choice and we provide the scholarship. But that does not provide value for money. So we decided that we want the best and we came up with about 15 universities, which are among the best in the UK.
“At the same time, there is an additional advantage for doing that. Now, we can sit down with the universities and guarantee a specific number and also demand for discounts from the institutions. And right now we are getting discounts of between 15 to 20 per cent from the different universities, but this depends on the university.”
“Last year we had about 60 different universities and that’s a very unhealthy number, but right now it has been cut down to about 15.”
He added that the PTDF would commence local scholarship programmes very soon, noting that the number of scholars would be higher than those on foreign scholarship programmes.
“We are going to commence the scholarship programmes for Nigerian universities possibly by the end of this month and we expect the numbers to be higher than those of the foreign scholarships,” Gusau said.