It has been observed world over and rightly so, that the importance of research in any academic institution is vital to the growth of both the institution in terms of knowledge based – development for the lecturers and the general quality of graduates from such an institution.
Educational sector watchers and university academics who bared their mind to BusinessDay observed that financial constraints a pose serious challenge or setback to achieving results in research, owning to the fact that successive governments constantly find it difficult to release grants to universities which ordinarily would aid professors in the advancement of research efforts.
They are of the view that when well funded research findings are employed by citadels of higher learning there are tremendous results.
Isaac Adeyemi, vice chancellor Bells University of Science and Technology, is of the view that to meet the demands of building entrepreneurial graduates, university lecturers must retool and re-equip themselves. This he noted can be achieved if the university lecturers reach out to the governments, communities, industries and the whole world.
According to him, “A university lecturer should avail himself of opportunities to do research and advance. Without research, he/she cannot bring new ideas into his lecture notes.”
Adeyemi further observe that a university lecturer should reach out to the industry through his/her cutting edge research and innovation insisting that collaboration and networking are the watch words, while also pointing out that lethargy and fatalism have no room in the mind of a modern day lecturer.
Research, in the words of Samuel Ejiofor, a university research fellow, is the systematic search and investigation for increasing the sum of knowledge and the search and application of this knowledge for development of new and improved industrial processes of capital development which, have in recent times, emerged to occupy the main centre stage in the activities of the western universities.
Ejiofor particularly pointed out that the main criteria for ranking the “world class universities” is not so much about the volume of teaching, student population or community services a university could muster; but research output measured by the breakthrough findings published in first class and medal winning journals and books, which could increase the volume and rate of knowledge accumulation.
He wondered why university lecturers are constantly being marginalised when it comes to funding proper research work in any university by government, adding that with this development, Nigeria stands little or no chance in the rating of advanced countries because according to him, “advancement in research work has made knowledge accumulation the most important and dominant form of today’s capitalist accumulation, responsible for launching the advanced countries to the top of the world.”
This, in his estimation, is understandable because research and development have become the most enduring and effective means of boosting sustainable economic development and re-enforcing competitiveness in the face of the rapid growth taking place between industries, countries and peoples in the world,” he maintained.
Another expert, Maurice Onyiriuka, an education consultant, believes that the whole concept of research in any academic institution is geared towards an activity for generating knowledge for economic development. He however is pained that such has not yet dawned on the Nigerian ruling class and policy makers.
According to him, “It is important to recognise that the decline of university education generally and research particularly has been reflecting the degree of chronic underfunding to which universities have been subjected in the past one and a half decades.”
He further disclosed that another major constraint of Nigerian university research is that it has been increasingly delinked from the productive sectors of the economy, but surprisingly even from the community and polity problems and issues.