Collation of VC Speeches

Kayode-Soremekun

 

Professor Kayode Soremekun assumed duty in February 2016 as vice chancellor, Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Ekiti State. Two years into his stewardship, he discusses some of his achievements and other educational issues with KEHINDE ADIO. Excerpts

 

After two years in office as vice chancellor of the Federal University Oye Ekiti, can you share with us some of your major achievements?

 

In the area of academic attainment, we have in the last two years expanded our programme from 22 to 49 while our faculties have been increased from four to seven. For a young university, we now have a Postgraduate School. We are currently cultivating the international academic community. We have increased our admission capacity from 3,000 to 12,000. This is an exponential growth. The implication of this is that we are helping the indigents and children of the peasants whose parents lack the financial wherewithal to send them to private universities. We equally now have pre-degree and JUPEB programmes; and we have in the pipeline programmes like the Faculty of Law, Pharmacy and Basic Medical School.

 

It will interest you to know that most of our programmes have full accreditation status, and recently we presented 22 programmes for accreditation and 18 were approved. In the area of infrastructure development, most of the uncompleted facilities we met on ground are now completed. Also, the Engineering block at Ikole-Ekiti campus and the 150-capacity lecture theatre at the Oye-Ekiti campus have been completed. The main library is completed and ready for occupation. We have also built a 500-capacity lecture theatre for the Faculty of Science. The most fascinating of it all is that the significant parts of these structures and facilities were carried out on the platform of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

 

Funding has been the major challenge of most universities in Nigeria. How is FUOYE faring in this regard?

Inasmuch as the challenge of finance has become a general problem to most universities, we at FUOYE are surmounting that challenge. I told you earlier that most of our projects are funded through Internally Generated Revenue. For example, we have an Entrepreneurial Centre headed by Dr. Abimbola. He came with a robust experience from the Covenant University. These entrepreneurial skills have placed our students in good stead to fend for themselves. We are also getting support from the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund).

 

However, we cannot wish away funding as the oxygen of education. We are contending with the fact that government in view of her numerous commitments is not doing enough for FUOYE. FUOYE should have a special status, especially with the fact that we are running two campuses with capital-intensive courses like Engineering. We are contending with the issue of buying equipment, the rigour of accreditation with the Council of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN) and the National Universities Commission (NUC). All these are some of our major challenges.

 

Private universities are springing up in Nigeria fairly regularly. Is this healthy for the country’s educational advancement?

 

The first thing to look at is access to these universities as many as you claim they are. Despite the springing up of many universities, not many candidates are getting admission. Where there is demand for university education, the effective demands are there, hence, private universities are contending with low patronage. The naive proprietors soon realize that the prospect of financial accumulation is not there. At the state level, most of the universities are pale. They can neither pay their staff salaries nor meet other financial obligations. As for the federal universities, what appears to be going for them is that they are affordable and in a way provide some form of quality education.

 

We should all ask ourselves a fundamental question: is any meaningful research going on in these universities? I am seeing an ominous dimension. South African universities have become a kind of playground for post-doctoral studies for young Ph.D holders from Nigeria. The question is why is the reverse not happening in Nigeria? There is an ironic dimension to this development. Even under the hated apartheid system, the bourgeoisie still put money in the academic system. The Nigeria ruling class was only ready to lampoon the apartheid system. The truth must be told, despite its obnoxious (apartheid) system, the bourgeoisie put in place world class system. This might well explain the fact that in the post-apartheid era, Nobel prizes were awarded to South African writers. It is, therefore, time for Nigeria to fund education properly.

 

In the area of academic attainment, we have in the last two years expanded our programme from 22 to 49 while our faculties have been increased from four to seven. For a young university, we now have a Postgraduate School. We are currently cultivating the international academic community. We have increased our admission capacity from 3,000 to 12,000. This is an exponential growth. The implication of this is that we are helping the indigents and children of the peasants whose parents lack the financial wherewithal to send them to private universities. We equally now have pre-degree and JUPEB programmes; and we have in the pipeline programmes like the Faculty of Law, Pharmacy and Basic Medical School.