By Dayo Adesulu
PRO-Chancellor and founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, has advocated for a uniform examination for all final year students in both private and public universities in the nation.
Speaking during ABUAD’s 2018/2019 matriculation and Founder’s Day ceremony in Ado-Ekiti, Babalola said: “I want to suggest to the National Universities Commission, NUC and the Ministry of Education that in order to maintain quality and high standard in Nigerian universities, the final year students in all programmes in all our universities should take the same national final examination.”
According to him, if the suggestion is adopted, it would lead to hard work and healthy academic competition among undergraduates of various universities in the country.
“In this way, every university shall work hard to ensure that their students pass the national examination thereby ensuring high standard in teaching and research,” he explained.
Babalola whose student emerged overall best at the Law School and the final Medical Examinations in 2018 said: “The task before us now is how to maintain the high standard at ABUAD.”
He said that four ABUAD graduates who went to Law School graduated with first class, with one of them emerging over all best in the nation.
Disclosing the institution’s milestone achievements, Babalola said: “All ABUAD 156 students passed the 2018 final Bar Examination with 12 First Class, best overall students out of 6000 and won 24 prizes out of 36 at the Law School.
“At the College of Medicine, all 43 pioneer students passed final Medical Examinations in six and half years with eight distinctions.
“Besides, second prize winner out of 2, 500 candidates in 2018 ICAN/ATS, West Africa Examination went to Nellieken Ochinke from the College of Social and Management Sciences.
“Our College of Sciences got the UNESCO Chair in Entrepreneurship Education for Sustainable Development and the College of Engineering with 37 laboratories was declared the “Temple for Engineering Education” in the country by Nigeria Society of Engineers.”
Speaking on maintaining academic standard, former Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Peter Okebukola pointed out seven cardinal principles.
His words: “Continue to admit good quality students into ABUAD. If circumstances demand admitting poorer quality students, scaffold to 100 level through intensive programmes to remedy their deficiencies. Even during progression to final-year class, continue the regime of exposure to remedial classes in courses where such students are underperforming. The cost of such remediation should be borne by the student outside regular fees.
“Continue to employ good quality teachers in the right quantity and remunerate for retention. Avoid fly-by-night lecturers from public universities who only want to be appointed to a higher grade they cannot ordinarily earn in their originating universities. Conduct background checks of all staff to be employed and watch out for persons who will pollute the ABUAD community with bad character.
“Without waiting for NUC and the professional bodies, the DVC or the Director of Quality Assurance of ABUAD should lead a team to conduct periodic accreditation assessment for all programmes and be in a state of perpetual readiness for any external review.
“Let me now take on the matter I mentioned to the Chancellor and Founder- that of reward and punishment. ABUAD should continue to reward any quality-bolstering behaviour by staff and students and punish aberrant behaviours that will depress the hard-earned quality label of ABUAD. “In this connection, all staff and students should be made aware of the quality assurance policy of ABUAD and the penalty for transgression. Nobody should be above the law in the implementation of this policy. In an event the ABUAD Policy on Quality Assurance is not fully in place, urgent steps should be taken to finalise, approve and disseminate the policy.
“Continue to ensure that in all courses offered in ABUAD, there is quality teaching, learning and research. This demands quality classrooms, laboratories and workshops. ABUAD is not wanting here as it boasts one of the best facilities for teaching, learning and research in the Nigerian university system, indeed in Africa. This also demands that ABUAD lecturers are up-to-date in their disciplines and are able to deliver their subjects in a most learner-friendly manner.
Since we cannot speculate about this competence, end-semester assessment of all lecturers in the quality of delivery of their courses- lectures, practicals, tutorials and field trips (as appropriate for the course) would appear necessary.
It is not merely through asking students to fill out questionnaires at the end of the semester but by the Head of Department or a designated senior staff conducting spot checks of lectures, practicals and other academic engagement of students. The report of such assessment should be analysed and refresher training organised for staff with competencies lower than an established threshold.
“Now back to the reward system. The ABUAD reward system for exemplary performance by students and staff is one of the best in the world. My survey of practices across the world attests to this fact. For instance, which university in the world rewards its high-performing graduates with the prize of a car and handsome cash awards? High research productive lecturers are recognised and given impressive financial rewards. It is important to maintain this reward system in order to motivate students and staff who carry the ABUAD flag of quality flying high. On the side, it is worth mentioning that few universities in the world can match the honorarium of ABUAD to members of Council and members of the Board of Trustees. We will continue to thank the Chancellor and Founder for this generous stimulant which is a spur to us all to keep putting in our best to promote quality in the university.
“The last of my seven cardinal principles is on innovation and the evolution of more centres of excellence in ABUAD to give it an additional edge as an elite university and sustain it as such. Today, ABUAD is ranked among the best in Law, Medicine, Accounting, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development in Nigeria.
“We want ABUAD to take on a fifth discipline as centre of national and global excellence. I suggest we turn in the direction of being a centre of excellence in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cybersecurity.
“These are new directions in the global world of scholarship, innovation and practice. Senate of ABUAD should work out a strategic plan for actualising the goal that by 2025, this university is Nigeria’s No. 1 in AI and Cybersecurity.”