Nigeria: Private Varsities Kick Over Exclusion From TetFund N7.5 Billion Research Grant

Abuja — The recent approval of N7.5 billion for Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) National Research Fund (NRF) without any provision for private universities and other tertiary institutions to access the NRF is generating ill feelings against the federal government.

Their exclusion from the grant negates Nigerian tertiary institutions' sustainable growth and development.

Vice Chancellor of a private university recently said that "already we are consulting on the matter with a view to making our disaffection known to the federal government".

Similarly, a senior lecturer in the institution posited that "in the eligibility requirements of the recently issued call for concept notes, it is clear, even to the untrained eye that academics in public institutions are favoured over their counterparts in private institutions".

He added that should dispassionate probes be conducted, lecturers in private universities are actually more engaged and are saddled with more responsibilities than their counterparts in the public institutions of learning within the country. Hence, they should be equally deserving of opportunities availed their counterparts in the public tertiary institutions.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved an increase of the TETFund research grant from an initial N3 billion to N7.5 billion for the year 2020.

Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, who disclosed this at the 2020 TETFund Board of Trustees (BoT), Retreat in Abuja, recently, pointed out that the increase in fund makes the agency the largest holder of research grants in Nigeria.

As the agency prides itself with the aforementioned, many in private tertiary institutions are of the view that having such amount in its kitty makes it imperative for TETFund to put at bay. "This policy which copiously discriminates against non-public universities in the allotment of research grants by a public funded government agency has held sway and should now be put at bay. Professors and other lecturers in private universities should be given equal considerations and opportunities as their peers in public tertiary institutions. They are one and the same. When dispassionately examined, there are no congruent reasons adduced why those in private tertiary institutions should be sidelined".

Meanwhile, Bogoro has said that approval had been given for the establishment of six medical simulation research and clinical training facilities in six colleges of medicine in each geopolitical zone of the country within the year.

Again, no private tertiary institution is captured in this project, thus fuelling widespread resentment against the government.

Darlington Chude wrote from Abuja.

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