BusinessDay

Oxford, Cambridge alumni explains how Nigerian universities can level up with foreign peers

In a friendly and educative discussion, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Alumni Network in Nigeria has given guidelines on how Nigeria’s universities can rise to the occasion and compete with some of its peers across the world.

Speaking at a freshers event held at the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos for Nigerian students going for postgraduate studies in Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the United Kingdom, members of the club opined that quality investment in education and partnership with private institutions could do the magic.

“When we talk about funding of the sector, the government, though has a role to play, should not be the main player,” the President, Oxford and Cambridge Club of Nigeria, Lanre Fatimilehin said.

“The government would always talk about inadequate resources, but if our universities are ready to partner with the private sector and create solutions to problems, things would change,” Fatimilehen explained to journalists at the event.

He noted that Nigerian universities must learn how to translate knowledge to solutions to societal problems.

He added, “by doing this, they can make money and grow”.

Fatimilehin encouraged Nigerian universities to follow the footsteps of Oxford University who is leveraging on its partnership with multinationals to produce COVID-19 vaccines.

“I am sure the money they make from that is going to be channelled into other things for the university to grow. Universities like Oxford have become the birthplace of many businesses,” he said.

A former president of the Alumni, Timi Austen Peters, a lawyer, said Nigerian universities should learn how to prepare their students for life generally.

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“I attended Cambridge and my children did the same. These are institutions that prepare their students for life. Students are trained to be focused and to be ready to read for their degrees. Products from such schools will be able to compete globally and then attract great things to their schools,” he said.

A board of trustees member of the alumni, Prof. Bomi Ogedengbe, lamented the rot the education
system is now experiencing.

“I had all my education in the UK and trained as a medical doctor and came back to Nigeria to work at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital where I retired. That was because the level we were in the 1970s and 80s was good.

Adequate funding of the sector, incentives to the teachers, partnership with the private sector can all help the system to become better,” she noted.

Chibueze Ewuzie, a banker who is going for an MBA programme at Oxford, noted that Nigerian universities seem to be preparing their students for the past and not the future.

“What I mean by saying that we are preparing students for the past and not the future is that our curricular are archaic. Some are as old as over 20 years. Now, when you prepare students with a curriculum that is over 20 years old, what do you expect? Is the world and work places the same as they were 20 years ago,” he asked.

Another student going for an MBA programme, Ifeoluwa Ogunbufunmi, noted that Nigerian universities have a long way to go.

“Imagine that to get transcripts can be like going to war. I know a friend whose admission to a foreign university was cancelled because she could not get her transcripts from her university on time. We have to start the process of mending the system from the basics,” she said.

British Council country director, Nigeria, and director for the West African region, Lucy Pearson, disclosed that Nigerians seek university education in the UK either as first degree or at the postgraduate level because of quality offered by the institutions.

The country director observed that education was a major priority for both countries, adding that “as restrictions on COVID-19 gradually are reduced, we expect to have more Nigerian students heading to the UK for university education.”

Pearson said the council would continue to support first degree and postgraduate students
heading to the UK.

She confirmed the council had a working relationship with the National Universities Commission (NUC) on quality assurance and other matters.

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