The Federal Ministry of Education says the internationalisation of higher education through partnerships and collaborations is cardinal to ensuring and maintaining the quality and relevance of Nigeria’s tertiary education system, especially universities.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said on Monday in Lagos this at the opening of the maiden University of Lagos (UNILAG) International Week.
The theme of the event is: “Education in a Connected World”.
NAN reports that Adamu was represented by Dr Chris Miyaki, an official of the National Universities Commission (NUC).
He said that universities must now, more than ever, take deliberate measures to key into available opportunities for linkages and cooperation with their foreign counterparts, if they were to remain globally competitive.
According to the minister, no country in the world can do it all alone.
“Our institutions of higher learning must, out of necessity, demonstrate those attributes that make them truly international entities.
“The poor global ranking of Nigerian universities, the absence of directorates of internationalisation in most universities, the untapped roles of the alumni, including those in the Diaspora and the poor synergy among our universities came under scrutiny at a recent retreat.
“The retreat was organised by the NUC for directors of international offices/development on the subject of internationalisation of university education in Nigeria.
“The objective of that retreat was to ascertain the challenges of internationalisation with a view to seeking appropriate and enduring solutions as well as encouraging innovations among Nigerian universities through international partnerships,’’ he said.
The minister further stressed the need for the country’s universities to adopt emerging technologies, especially quality management learning system which, among others, could enhance students’ learning experience.
He assured that government would continue to do its best to improve on the current ecosystem.
According to him, the NUC would be supported to sustain the drive towards creating viable international portfolios in Nigerian universities and other arms of the federal ministry of education.
Adamu urged Unilag to take full advantage of the international week and leverage on the promising opportunities implicit in the programme.
“I enjoin you to you to embrace the outcome statement from this event to put in place measures and mechanisms that will attract and retain international students and faculty, as concomitants that will make this university truly international and globally-competitive,’’ he said.
Earlier, Prof. Is’haq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), noted that the university remained Nigeria’s pride, adding that the event was an additional feather to its cap.
According to him, it is a thing of commendation for the university to get to bring together its partners from across the world.
“To show the importance of education today, we must continue to ensure and support this kind of gathering.
“ The theme of this gathering is ‘Education in a Connected World’ and I believe that education must be given a new era of its connection.
“It should be education for interconnected world, because no nation, no matter how powerful it thinks of itself, can do it all alone.
“It has to lean on one another’s shoulder; it has to synergise for us to have the type of education that can be useful for the contemporary world.
“If this is the case, the internalisation of education is not just international. Part of internationalisation is local, because, without internalising internationalisation of education, we will be wasting our energy and efforts,’’ he said.
According to the JAMB boss, the curriculum itself has to be internalised, adding that teachers, lecturers and the students must be prepared for global market.
“Therefore, we must come together and promote education that will be functional and useful for the development of humanity.
“Universities have realised that unless we re-invent ourselves and if we look at what is going on in some developed countries of the world today, people are no longer interested in higher education.
“They are staying away from it because higher education is becoming irrelevant to their personal and career development.
“Many people hold certificates without jobs; then, the question is, should we continue to acquire certificates that are not used?
“Even when you talk about education for personal development, are there no other avenue of acquiring skill, attitude and altitude that will be useful to the world without going to the university?’’ he queried.
He then stated that leading universities like the University of Lagos must continue to re-examine itself and make itself relevant to the emerging markets.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the essence of the two-day event was to further expose the university to the international stage.
He noted that the institution had collaborations with over 100 universities around the world, adding that this was a huge leap to students/staff exchange.
“We have been encouraging our students in the area of innovation, with so many firsts to show for it. And now, our innovation centre is one of the best in the country.
“Part of our vision is to make our students to be relevant locally and be globally competitive. Our students have been involved in several competitions in which they had done very well.
“We have also been able to attract research grant of over N4 billion and our lecturers are now showing more interests in attracting research grants to the university.
“We are striving to take our place globally and that informs the reason for bringing in our partners from other universities within and outside the country.
“To come and look at what we have here, so as to improve on the relationship and also make them know that UNILAG and Nigeria are safe,’’ Ogundipe said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that over 40 foreign partners of the university from UK, U.S. Finland and China graced the occasion.