The National Universities Commission (NUC) says it is embarking on the process of reforming the country’s higher educational system in order to turn out products that can compete globally with their counterparts.
Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, Executive Secretary of the commission said this in Abuja on Tuesday at a workshop on the proposed Higher Education Reform and Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE).
Rasheed said the reform was agreed upon at the end of a deliberation by a reform committee on higher education headed by Prof. Peter Okebukola to advise NUC.
He said that the university community should begin to move from theoretical to the practical aspect of science and technology thereby increasing graduate employability skills.
He said that the universities administration was also contributing to unemployment problems because results were not being released on time upon graduation thereby making graduates loose the opportunity of getting job on time.
According to him, the universities are not producing the right graduates in arts, humanity and social sciences as many of them do not know the rudiments of the courses.
“So many of our graduates loose opportunities for job elsewhere because our universities fail to release their results on time.
”We are also faced with other injustices from industries because many times we are not producing the right graduates.
“Many a times, our graduates in arts, humanities and social sciences cannot construct sentences or even write memo in offices.
”Also, many of our graduates in physics and the sciences cannot fit into the job because they lack the prerequisite skills.”
Rasheed said upon assumption into office, he ensured the process of reforming the commission and empower it to better deliver on it’s functions.
He added that though the system was not terribly bad as many graduates of our universities still go outside the country and excel in their various endeavours, adding that there was still need to reform the system to do better.
The NUC boss, therefore, called on the leadership of the university to align themselves to the reform agenda of the commission so that graduates can compete favourable with their counterparts anywhere in the world.
He added that getting it right at the higher education level would proffer solutions to the socio-economic and political problems facing the country.
”Looking at Nigeria and in spite of the challenges we must consider ourselves as critical stakeholders in any agenda that will ensure the country make progress in economic, political and social spheres.
Rasheed said that what needed to be done was to start planning on how to advice the government at all levels to brace up on the challenges facing the educational system in the country.
He, however, charged the university system to impact on the immediate community and also produce graduates, who are not only relevant nationally but can impact and stand their grounds anywhere in the world.
He said the universities must be to alive to their responsibilities of rendering teaching, research and service to the wider community.
The NUC boss said the committee on higher education reform had also made a recommendation that corruption in higher institutions like sexual harassment, selling of results, plagiarism and the likes be reduced drastically.
He also said curriculum re-engineering must be put in place, saying that the commission was working to ensuring Nigerian universities curriculum become one.
Rasheed, however, said that if all the recommendations put in place by the committee was implemented by universities, then the quality of graduates in Nigeria would improve.
Also, Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, Chairman, NUC Skills and Development Advisory Committee, said the employability problems in the country labour market was as a result of poor funding of tertiary institutions.
Bamiro said that preparing the young people to enter the labour market had become the responsibility for universities and this must be addressed critically.
He, therefore, said that the universities should be responsive to the dynamics of labour market by ensuring that the quality of graduates are being produced to meet the demand of industries.
Mr Andreas Blom of the World Bank, Washington, said funding was key in addressing the challenges while calling on universities to generate their own funding instead of depending on public funding to get their dreams accomplished.
Blom also called for more investment in the post graduate studies while laying emphasis on skills development.
He added that fostering openness and an evidence based culture, increased autonomy and cost efficiency of institutions and tertiary education systems was critical to producing globally competitive graduates.