• Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

ASUU sustained strike threatens internationalisation of Nigeria universities

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A major consequence of the over eight months industrial action embarked on by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) is that some international partners and organisations that sponsor foreign students in some Nigerian universities may withdraw their students if the union does not resolve the strike issue soon, BusinessDay findings have revealed.

International partners such as the World Bank, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), among others, that enrol foreign students in Nigerian universities on scholarships may be forced to withdraw the existing students and divert prospective ones, if Nigeria fails to address the ASUU issue urgently.

Already, the prolonged ASUU strike is benefiting universities in other West African countries as massive capital flight running into several billions of dollars are lost on annual basis to countries of the world with Ghanaian universities earning $1 billion as tuition fees from Nigerians, according to Isaac Adeyemi, former vice chancellor, Bells University, Otta, Ogun State.

The increasing capital flight from Nigeria to other universities of the world, especially universities on the Coast of West Africa on account of tuition fees paid annually by Nigerian students, could be attributable to Nigerian parents and students’ lack of confidence in the Nigerian educational system and private universities.

Concerned educationists, who spoke with BusinessDay, are concerned that this portends serious disadvantage to the Nigerian education system if the situation is allowed to continue.

However, Adeyemi, while expressing his thought on the issues surrounding the ASUU strike among other issue, corroborates the claims of foreign partners on the planned diversion and withdrawal of the international students from the Nigerian universities if the strike persists.

According to Adeyemi, “You may say it is ASUU or some people may say it is government. I believe it is all of us. I think it is high time we avoided strike and move forward as a nation. The strike also affects Nigerian universities.”

The drive for internationalisation has been affected with the instability of the academic calendar in Nigeria, the university don notes.

The massive capital flight Nigeria currently loses to foreign countries in form of tuition fees may continue if no concrete efforts are made to reposition the university system, Adeyemi states.

He observes that there is no better time than now for Nigerian universities to restrategise on the appropriate steps to be taken towards meeting the much desired expectations of our teeming clientele.

“Nigeria has witnessed massive capital flight running into billions of naira, not only to Europe, North America and South Africa, but also to neighbouring countries along the West African coast,” he says.

He called on managers of the Nigerian education system to stand up to the challenges, and move for excellence of none academic disruption, both nationally and internationally.

Tolu Odugbemi, former vice chancellor, Ondo State University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa, notes that hundreds of billions of naira are being spent annually to finance education in foreign land by Nigerians, saying Nigerian government should be partly blamed for the situation.

Odugbemi, while noting that government needs to do more for public universities to achieve certain level of international academic standards required of universities, urges the Federal Government to improve budgetary allocation to education.

BusinessDay findings show that most public universities in Nigeria are currently devoid of physical teaching and learning as a result of the ASUU strike embarked on since March 23, 2020, over the Federal Government’s decision to withhold the February salary of their members who refused to enrol on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).

Giving the situation report, Biodun Ogunyemi, national president, ASUU, affirmed that the strike would continue in as much as the Federal Government does not fulfil its pledges to the union.

Even if the government eventually reopens schools, it has nothing to do with universities battling with a series of crisis, Ogunyemi said.

The current crises are beyond Covid-19, he said, adding that there are fundamental crises that will make universities’ reopening longer and impossible for now.

According to Ogunyemi, “We had long told government our position and until they meet necessary conditions, universities are not resuming even after Covid-19.”

He further pointed out that there were outstanding issues and government was not ready to fix our universities and provide enabling learning environment.

“You cannot talk about social distancing in universities without talking about additional lecture rooms. So, we have two crises delaying resumption. The health crises and the refusal of government to make our universities standard,” he said.