From September 2023, Nigerian universities will begin to implement a new curriculum known as the Core Curriculum and Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS).
The new curriculum replaces the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS) which had been in use since 2007; it was unveiled by the National Universities Commission in 2022, aimed at making university education in Nigeria more responsive to the needs of the society.
It was designed to reflect the 21st Century realities, in the existing and new disciplines and programmes in the Nigerian University System.
The CCMAS has 17 disciplines, an expansion from the 12 disciplines contained in BMAS. The disciplines are Administration and Management, Agriculture, Allied Health Sciences, Architecture, Arts, Basic Medical Sciences, Architecture, Arts, Basic Medical Sciences, Computing, Communication and Media Studies.
Others are Education, Engineering and Technology, Environmental Sciences, Law, Medicine and Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Science, Sciences, Social Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine.
In line with the dynamism in higher education provisioning, the Commission said it took cognizance of complaints by the universities on the high number of General Studies courses in the BMAS and was subsequently streamlined. GST courses are reduced from 36 credit units to 12 credit units of 6 courses
Entrepreneurship was also repackaged with the introduction of programme-specific entrepreneurship. Courses such as Venture Creation Entrepreneurship, and Innovation found generous space.
The new curriculum unbundled some disciplines to include; the Bachelor of Agriculture, Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication and Bachelor of Architecture Programmes, while establishing some emerging specializations in these fields as obtained globally. This is in furtherance of its goal of producing fit-for-purpose graduates.
The Allied Health Sciences was also carved out as a new discipline from the existing Basic Medical Sciences discipline.
While Mass Communication was unbundled into: Advertising, Broadcasting, Development Communication Studies, Film and Multimedia, Information and Media Studies, Journalism and Media Studies, Mass Communications, Public Relations and Strategic Communication.
The courses under Agriculture include; Agribusiness, Agricultural Science, Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Extension, Animal Science, Crop Science; Family and Consumer Sciences; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Food Science and Technology, Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, Horticulture and Landscape Management, Soil Science, and Water Resources Management and Agro-meteorology.
Also, Architecture was unbundled into Architectural Technology, Furniture Design, Interior Architecture Design, Landscape Architecture, and Naval Architecture.
In addition to the overall learning outcomes for each discipline, there are also learning outcomes for each programme and course. In general, programmes are typically structured such that a student does not carry less than 30 credit units or more than 48 credit units per session.
Further, the CCMAS documents are structured to provide for 70 percent of core courses for each programme, while allowing universities to utilise the remaining 30 percent for other innovative courses in their peculiar areas of focus.
But stakeholders have criticised 70 percent of input in the curriculum by the NUC, but that the commission ought to encourage universities to propose innovations for the review of their programmes.
The Academic Staff Union of Universities sees this as a threat to university autonomy. The union says universities are statutorily responsible for academic programme development making them mere spectators in their own affairs.
But the NUC boasts that the CCMAS is a product of sustained stakeholder interactions over two years- involving a blend of academic experts, academies, government (represented by NUC), professional bodies and of course, the private sector represented by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).
The commission notes that this CCMAS document is expected to guide institutions in the design of curricula for their Administration and Management programmes by stipulating the minimum requirements.
Consequently, the commission says it is optimistic that the CCMAS documents will serve as a guide to Nigerian Universities in the design of curriculum for their programmes with regards to the minimum acceptable standards of input and process, as well as, the measurable benchmark of knowledge, 21st-century skills and competences expected to be acquired by an average graduate of each of the academic programmes, for self, national and global relevance.