Prof. Idika Kalu, the Vice-Chancellor of Evangel University, Okpoto in Ebonyi has appealed to the Federal Government to include private universities in the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) support.
Kalu made the appeal during a media interaction in his office on Wednesday, saying that it was regrettable that private universities were excluded from the fund.
He said that denying private universities TETFund support to finance their academic programmes, including research and infrastructure development, amounted to great injustice.
He said that the main aim of every academic institution was to contribute to nation building through impartation of knowledge and character moulding rather than profit making.
Kalu said that the university, which is owned by the Assemblies of God Church, Nigeria, was built to provide quality education in line with international standard.
He said that private universities offered the same academic services like their government-owned counterparts, hence should enjoy similar financial assistance from the federal government.
Kalu hinged the high fees charged by private universities on the enormous financial burden they bear in the attempt to maintain the best minimum standard required by the regulatory agencies.
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He said: “The establishment of universities all over the world is usually not for profits.
“Most of the foremost universities in the world started as faith-based, some were established by individuals and families with trust.
“So, one cannot break even in a life time for establishing a university, no matter the fee the person or organisation charges.
“Imagine a university established with N10 billion, what fee will students pay within the life time of the proprietor to make him recover the capital.
“Students in private universities should be made to enjoy the education tax paid by oil companies operating in Nigeria, which is collected as TETFund.
“Our lecturers should also be given the opportunity to benefit from research grants from the fund.
“These private universities will still have to pay very high salary bills and meet up with the requirements of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and maintain their learning facilities for best academic performance.
“Because education is a highly regulated industry, we have to meet the demand and benchmark required of us.”
The vice chancellor said that the university, which began academic activities in 2012 at its temporary site at Okpoto, had a student population of at least 600.
He said that four colleges in the institution, including Physical Science, Management Sciences, Health Sciences and College of Arts and Social Sciences, had received full accreditation from the NUC.
He said that the university had zero tolerance for cultism, indecent dressing as well as sex or money for marks syndrome, among other social vices.
“The institution has zero tolerance for cultism and other social ills that are prevalent in most of our premier universities.
“We have a chapel where our students must show 75 per cent attendance to qualify for graduation,” Kalu further said. (NAN)