By Adesina Wahab
Director, International Office, Aston University, Birmingham, United Kingdom, Mr Matthew Dean, has said without acquiring industry skills while studying for their various degrees, today’s graduates would only end up not meeting the demands of the labour market.
Dean, who spoke in an interview with journalists in Lagos, said that was the reason Aston University started placing its undergraduates in various relevant industries for them to acquire employable skills over 50 years ago.
He, therefore, advised Nigerian universities to take a cue and ensure that entrepreneurship is taken seriously while students are pursuing their various degrees.
Dean, who was part of a team from the university that came to Lagos to meet with alumni of the university and prospective students, noted that Nigerian students are among the best if given the opportunity to thrive.
“Over the years, Aston University has had a robust relationship with Nigeria and Nigerian students. We have triple accreditation for our Business School. We are ranked among the top universties in the United Kingdom. In the world of business and management, we are ranked among the top 100 globally. We have enjoyed great patronage from Nigerian students.
“This is an exciting time to study in the UK. The government is granting two years visa for people coming for their master’s programmes and they can work. We are also among the first to start job placement opportunities for our undergraduates. This is to afford.them work experience and get the needed skills to compete in the labour market or start their own businesses.
“They use that opportunity to learn employable skills. We have established linkages with industries and entrepreneurs from which students learn. We have this unique sell point of providing high quality course contents for our students and also assist them to acquire industry skills. This we do from their first day on campus.
“The labour market is very competitive now and anybody without industry skills would not be able to for in,” he said.
He added that last year, about 400 Nigerian students secured admission for various courses in the university.
Asked if there are ways Aston is collaborating with Nigerian universities, Dean said it had started talking with the University of Lagos, already had a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and in talks with the National Universities Commission, NUC and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund.
“With our MoU with the CIPMN, anybody who studies Human Resources Management at Aston University would be exempted from some papers and would probably need to write one or two to be chartered,” he said.
Also speaking, the Regional Manager, Africa, Mr Babajide Ogundeji, said apart from the tuition fees being affordable, many scholarship opportunities abound from which students could benefit.
He added that about £3 million has been earmarked a scholarship awards this year.
“Some of the awards would be about 50 percent of the total tuition cost. Some are even 100 percent. While most are academic based, others are not,” he said.
Ogundeji advised Nigerian students hoping to study in the UK to be ready to work hard, saying they should not think they are going for merry making.