By Dayo Adesulu
The critical challenge plaguing institutions of higher learning is funding. This has generated a cluster of other issues regarding attendance and effectiveness of many institutions.
While it’s obvious that governments alone cannot effectively fund education, tertiary education has been heavily relying on tuition fees, donations and faith-based institutions.
That was the revelation of Professor Toyin Falola while delivering the 3rd convocation lecture at McPherson University, Ogun State themed The Integration of Knowledge and Faith.
According to Falola, organized religions, primarily Christianity and Islam are the foundation of faith-based institutions and their manifest purposes include the propagation of faith and inculcation of values.He explained that the influence of religion on socio-political and economic life is not the only factor that motivated the development of faith-based universities pointing out that many difficulties including dwindling enrolment rates, funding restrictions as well as influence of political protest groups were major challenges.
Giving reasons for privitisation of higher education in our country, Falola disclosed that the struggle for resources by staff and students as well as the decrease in productive and capable graduates, prompted the privatization of higher education. These, he noted attracted private funds to the education sector.The distinguished professor of the University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA, posited that as units of learning, faith-based universities are not immune to challenges of other institutions of higher learning in Nigeria.
He aded that ”Most rely on a combination of fees, donations and faith-based institutions for funds. This can be appreciated especially in Kogi State where 66.7% of universities are funded by a combination of sources”. He however cautioned that the problem of funding is not peculiar to Nigeria since in other African nations there are restrictions in budgetary allocation to education. For example, the Pan African Christian University in Kenya is also in the vortex of a funding crisis and unable to function optimally without the aforementioned sources.
”Many have predicted that the cost of running these institutions combined with lower student enrolment rates could very well drive them out of business.
The capacity of some faith-based universities is at variance with poor enrolment. This data not only highlights the need for funding of faith-based universities but also the profit motive of some of them. The direction of private universities is linked to funding as well as how the country is managed and leadership. Also, government policies will influence the agenda of faith-based institutions and impact the diversification of programs of study in each. This concern of leadership must also be addressed in addition to the challenges regarding the funding of various programs and institutions.
The yearning for education
Youths are generally expected to be committed to acquiring education as institutions train them to become useful to society. The concentration on not just only skill acquisition but also religion in these faith-based universities is expected to prepare students for wholesome living.While many challenges plague the future of these institutions, availability of jobs will make private universities more affordable and with better management of the country, enrollment in these institutions will improve and enhance their potential to give back to society.
Meanwhile, Vice-Chancellor, McPherson University, Professor Adeniyi Agunbiade said 70 students graduated this year and that 11 of them made First Class Honours, thirty-five made Second Class Upper Division, while 15 were in Second Class Lower Division. The remnant made Third Class honours.Bello Kehinde Oluwatoyin of the Department of Accounting and Finance, emerged the overall best graduating student, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.81.Speaking on the progress of the institution, Agunbiade said: ”The National Universities Commission (NUC) made an assessment visit in July, 2017 to review our license. I am happy to report that following satisfactory performance, the provisional license granted at inception has been replaced with a full operational license”