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Universities face economic challenges

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By Mercy Kelani

TETFUND has been instrumental in preventing closure of many Public Universities.

The Vice Chancellors of Elizade University in Ondo State and Afe Babalola University in Ekiti State have expressed concern over the economic challenges facing Nigerian universities, warning that these institutions are at risk due to the current state of the nation’s economy. The statement was made during the inaugural Elizade University Bursary Lecture, which took place over the weekend at the university. The Federal Government was urged by Prof. Ijadunola to promptly devise an innovative solution for addressing the country’s economic decline.

In his opinion, TETFUND has been instrumental in preventing the closure of numerous Public Universities in Nigeria, while leaving out Private Universities’ quest for a more favourable environment. During her lecture on Financial Challenges in the Nigerian University Sector, Professor Olarinde emphasized the importance of incorporating cutting-edge technology and Artificial Intelligence in the management of universities. As the guest Lecturer and Vice-Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), she highlighted the need for innovation in navigating the turbulent and unpredictable economy.

Government’s allocation for education in Nigeria is only 6.39%.

Olarinde expressed concern over the rising cost of University education, stating that relying on one source of funding is no longer feasible. She also pointed out that the government’s allocation for education in Nigeria is only 6.39% of the total budget, falling short of the UNESCO recommended minimum of 15%. She expressed sorrow over the fact that many highly skilled young people in Nigeria are not receiving the opportunity to pursue a university education. In her opinion, the data indicates that less than a quarter of eligible candidates are accepted into programs related to Medicine, Surgery, and Health Sciences.

Also, in her view, the consequences of insufficient funding for University education in Nigeria are becoming increasingly apparent. Her impassioned plea was for the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to be expanded to include Private Universities beyond its current reach. Olarinde criticized the unfairness she saw in the current state of TETFUND, claiming that it was depriving Private Institutions of valuable support. She believed that this support could have led to lower fees in Private Schools, improved infrastructure, and increased capacity for accepting more students at reduced costs.

Financing a university requires a significant amount of capital.

More so, the Vice Chancellor emphasized that Private Universities should not be excluded from receiving benefits from TETFUND, as the funding for this organization comes from taxes collected from a variety of sources, including public and private companies. She also mentioned that private universities, which are essential in providing greater access to high-quality tertiary education, are not eligible for any support from TETFUND. In her opinion, financing a university requires a significant amount of capital. Therefore, she believes that access to TETFUND is crucial for the continued success of any university.

She also suggests amending the TETFUND Act of 2011, especially since a large portion of its funding comes from the private sector of Nigeria’s economy. The first lecture in the series was commended by her for the efforts made by the Bursary Department of Elizade University. Mr. Samuel Olusegun Ajeigbe, the Bursar of Elizade University, noted that the Nigerian economy is struggling due to the significant drop in the value of the Naira.

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This is also due to a level of hyperinflation not seen in nearly three decades. Ajeigbe expressed concerns about the significant decrease in student enrollment due to the financial difficulties in the country. This has also resulted in more students choosing to withdraw voluntarily. In addition, the high costs of using alternative power sources are adding to the financial strains. This situation is occurring alongside broader societal issues such as soaring unemployment rates, increased cases of kidnappings, insurgencies, and heightened levels of insecurity.

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