June 9, 2024

Educationist urges FG to enhance higher education with student-centric reforms, investments

Educationist urges FG to enhance higher education with student-centric reforms, investments

Stephen Ogunnubi, a higher education and student affairs professional and alumnus of the University of Iowa, has called on the Federal Government to adopt student-focused reforms and make strategic investments to improve higher education in the country.

The educationist, who expressed dissatisfaction with the state of tertiary education in the country in a statement on Sunday, stated that things could be better. 

Ogunnubi attributed the increasing number of human capital flights (or brain drain) witnessed in the country to the parlous state of the country’s higher education. 

The Vanguard reports that data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that about 99,985 Nigerian students left the country to enroll in universities in the United Kingdom between 2017 and 2022. 

This development, according to the agency, placed Nigeria third after China and India whose students are undergoing academic programmes in the UK. 

Not undermining the value of internationalization of education, a worried Ogunnubi opined that quick action must be taken to improve the quality of higher education in the country to prevent the loss of intellectual capital that could benefit Nigeria. 

He said, “Higher education has over the years been seen to be a major propeller of development and most developed nations of the world with this understanding have leveraged the potential of investing in higher education as a mechanism for advancing their technological, industrial, financial, political, social, and economic development through various means, some of which include research, and global exchange of knowledge (scholars).” 

“Higher education in Nigeria could be much better than what it is today. It has the potential of improving not just the various sectors of the nation’s economy, but also the human and social capital of the average Nigerian.”

“Looking at the current state of higher education in Nigeria, the constantly-increasing human-capital flight, and the percentage of the national budget allotted to education, it will be a sheer act of negligence and folly to fold our arms and ignore the pertinent lessons that could be drawn from other countries’ education system.”

Suggesting ways the country’s higher education system could be enhanced, Ogunnubi urged the government and top administrative officials of higher education institutions to focus on proper resource allocation, holistic student development, comprehensive support services, vibrant campus life, diversity and inclusion, enhanced student governance, innovative curriculum, research expansion, professional development, and community engagement as essential pillars for transformation.

By prioritizing these aspects, Nigeria can pave the way for a more robust, inclusive, and globally competitive higher education landscape that not only fosters academic excellence but also empowers individuals and drives national progress.

According to him, “the starting point for any form of transformation in Nigeria’s higher education system is prioritizing [higher] education in the national budget as no nation can rise above its investment in education. 

“A concerted effort among all stakeholders (public and private) in investing heavily in higher education is critical to the improvement of the current situation, because the chronic underfunding of [higher] education in the country has been the major cause of the incessant strike actions, dilapidated buildings, substandard amenities and equipment in labs, residence halls, and classrooms, and unpaid salaries of faculty and staff, to mention a few.”

The Educationist also advised the government to ensure students’ interests are prioritised when developing policies for higher education in the country, especially with the recent student-loan bill. 

He stated that “The ripple effect of unchecked policies (on student loans, public entrance examinations, tuition, access to higher institutions, etc.) that favor the government over the students is the continuous loss of trust and faith in the system.”

While expatiating this point, he said, “Although a lot of the transformative work lies in the hands of the government, we must not also forget that the micro efforts of administrators (vice-chancellors, provosts, rectors), and even faculty members in adopting student-centered approaches while providing educational services to students will go a long way in effecting the desired change. 

He also suggested implementing an innovative curriculum, strategic partnerships, and student affairs training for non-academic staff, hinting that it could initiate the introduction of an academic program in ‘Higher Education and Student Affairs’ to the nation’s educational scope.