July 4, 2021

How we made world rankings of universities within five years — Aluyor, VC, Edo University Uzairue

Edo University

Edo University


Recently, the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, NAE, inducted new Fellows of the Academy among whom was the Vice Chancellor, Edo State University, Uzairue, Prof. Emmanuel Aluyor. In this interview, Aluyor speaks on the induction ceremony and the progress so far made by the management of the University. Excerpts.

By Adesina Wahab

How do you feel about today’s event?

I am so elated to have been honoured and made a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering today. May be I should say this, this is my third time of being nominated, the two previous times, I failed on account of age, but again, it is a thing of pleasure that at my young age, I have the privilege to wine and dine with members of the Fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering.

As you heard the Executive Secretary said earlier today that the average age of the Fellows of the Academy is 70 years, but I am almost 20 years shy of that age. It is a thing of joy and honour to be a Fellow of the Academy.

As the pioneer Vice Chancellor of the Edo State University, Uzairue, what were the challenges you faced or that you are facing?

As a young University, the major challenge is challenging the status quo in many respects. For so many of us in the country, we are used to a particular way of doing things.

That particular way has its advantages and disadvantages. So, right from inception, we set forth to build and run a University that will be among the best in the country and the world. Also one that will adopt best global practices and challenge any University in the world.

To do that of course, as.the popular parlance says, to get different results, you have to do things in different ways. And so we have this general attitude or perspective of people wanting to do things the usual ways, especially by people coming from older universities.

The area we are mostly challenged is the area of leadership. Nigerians are generally good followers, you only need to show them the direction you want them to go as a leader and that is where they go.

Essentially, what I am trying to say is that whatever successes we have recorded at Edo State University are attributable to the followership. We have to challenge their minds to bring forth new ideas and of course we, the management, have always come up with good, great ideas which everybody buys into for the good of all and the University.

After five years, the University has been enjoying great global rating, what is the secret?

It is that secret that I have been telling you about. The array of lecturers that we have, the array of the non-academic staff, the challenge has been thrown that everybody needs to contribute positively to make the University better than they met it. We have a whole array of staff working day and night to ensure that they bring something positive and new on board. When you put all of that together, that is the kind of result you get.

It is not just about the VC and the management, it is about our staff doing it collectively.while we show them the direction to go. Because we are not looking at models that exist in Nigeria, we are looking at global best practices, looking at models that exist in the developed world. We are looking at great novel ideas.

I will give you one example. We have a Learning Management System, LMS, in place. There are few Nigerian universities that have this. For Edo State University, when we were going to get a LMS, we asked, what LMS should we get? Should we build our own? Should we adopt one that is already in use somewhere? So, we had to interrogate and investigate to find out what the world acclaimed best universities do.

And I will tell you that seven out of the best 10 universities in the world, no matter the University rating used, whether Webometrics or Time Higher Education, whatever yardstick is used to rate universities, seven out of the 10 use Canvass Learning System. Prior to the Canvass, we were using Blackboard. So we decided to use Canvass. To get the Canvass better utilised in our university, we developed Academic Information System locally and blend it with Canvass and it has been wonderful.

Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, these universities I referred to were using Canvass to interact with their students and that was what we did at Edo State University. Our academic session has been on seamlessly not because we are doing something new, but rather we are more or less copying what the leaders in the field are doing and we are improving on that.

God being with us, we are doing those things successfully.

What is the solution to incessnt faceoff between University staff and owners?

Let me quickly say that I may not be the best person to answer that question because those staff unions have not yet taken off in our university.

But talking as a professor working in a public university, I would say that whatever problems or issues that you see are largely a reflection of how our society, Nigeria, functions. If the authorities are interested in the welfare of followers, there will be less acrimony. A lot of the times, the government would make promises and would not fulfil them.

The hands and legs of the government were not tied while making the promises. If you make a promise and you don’t fulfil it, it is like beating a child and asking him not to cry.

What you largely get from the unions is that government would make promises fail to fulfil them. In the developed world, education is given top priority unlike what we have in our clime.

If necessary attention is not given education, you cannot get the result that will put Nigeria on the global map. Let me cite an example, during the Covid-19 lockdown and the frenzy to develop a vaccine, how many Nigerian universities were in the position to develop the vaccine with the great interest people have in research? If we cannot answer the question on the positive side, we cannot expect much from them.

Do we have enough universities in Nigeria?

The argument can be for and against. If you look at some developed countries, you will find out that the number of universities there may make you say we need more here. But the success.of Nigeria does not depend on the number of universities we have but looking at the ones we have and bringing them up to be what they really ought to be before we begin to talk about increasing the number. Quality is more important than quantity.

What can we do to improve the global rating of our universities?

For Edo State University, Uzairue, if you look at the Webometrics ranking, you will see that within our two years of existence, we were among 25,000 but now we are between 9,000-10,000.

What it means is that when we started, we were just among the about 25,000 universities being rated in the world. Now, we are among the top 9,000 and that means out of about 25,000 universities, we are among the first 9000 which is even better than a lot of universities in some developed nations.

This is achieved within five years of the University coming to existence.

The rating organisations have their criteria, things they look out for. It is now left for the University administrators to sit down, look at those things and address them. For instance, publications, quality of publications, the standard of the journals used, the staff of the of the University among others.

If the government invests in research in Nigerian universities and the researchers get good results to publish in high impact journals, the ranking of our universities would improve. Essentially, the key is government and the key is investment in research.