Abuja — The federal government has said that the Nigerian university system has failed in producing quality graduates who should be employed in industries, following its inability to meet their demands.
The Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwuka, disclosed this in Abuja during a two-day retreat organised by the National Universities Commission (NUC) for Governing Councils of Nigerian Federal Universities.
The minister challenged participants at the retreat to bridge the gap between Nigerian universities and the industry.
According to Anwukah, "At what point are we breaking the jinx of our graduates not been able to meet the needs of our industries?"
The minister suggested a reschooling project for the Nigerian students to better equip them for the field of work.
He lamented that the SIWES programme which had been in the system is no longer working due to what he called inadequate supervision.
He said: "There is a need for us to introduce a reschooling project, the SIWES programme is not providing the needed bridge between the students and the industry. This is not functioning and the industries have continued to clamour, they are refusing to employ our graduates.
"How do we address this challenge? The university system is trying to get industries to be part of what we are doing. We should look at how our graduates will be able to proceed on one whole year of practice in related fields."
Professor Anwukah charged like minds to accept the challenge and begin to fashion out solution.
"It is a big challenge and it remains a problem in the Nigerian university system. At what point do we find synergy? This is one of the problems the retreat needs to address," the minister said.
Speaking on the importance of creating new knowledge in the Nigerian university system, the Chairman, Governing Board of NUC, Professor Emeritus Ayo Banjo, said for Nigerian universities to achieve high ranking in world university ranking system, the universities must be adequately funded.
Prof. Banjo added that government's subventions must be visible in the universities.
He emphasised that reasonable staff to student ratio determines quality of education.
"University is judged largely by quality of its academic staff. International faculty ratio and international student ratio are key elements of ranking any university in the world. Nigerian universities for a start should open doors to students in West Africa countries . This will open revenue for the universities", Banjo said.
He called for curriculum reforms in the universities to produce excellent graduates which would place Nigerian universities on the world map.
Banjo said by November 17, 2018, Nigerian universities would be 70 years old, adding that "we are still at the infancy stage".
According to him, the general belief is that the Nigerian universities system is preforming under expectations compared to what was obtainable in other developed countries and this must be looked at critically.
On the issues of universities ranking, Banjo said NUC will soon establish a local ranking system which would be appropriate for excellence.
The Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, said the fundamental problems facing the university system is poor leadership, general underperformance and inadequate teaching and learning environment.
Rasheed added that the consequence of poor leadership had undermined the capacity of universities in achieving its mandate.
"Many of the problems in our universities today are traceable to bad leadership and this can also be traceable to human, financial and capital problems.
"Based on this, the NUC in collaboration with CPC and CVC have decided to organise the retreat of governing council of all 42 federal universities to provide solutions to the problems confronting the universities system," he said.
He therefore urged participants to remain focused in the deliberations and better equip themselves with proper leadership to move the universities forward.
Prof. Munzali Jibril, former NUC Executive Secretary, was optimistic that the issues raised in the retreat would help address the problems faced in the universities.
Also, Prof. Ibrahim Jordi, representing the CVC, said with the knowledge gained from the retreat, the level of education in Nigerian universities would be improved upon.