The National Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, NUC, Professor. Julius Okojie has charge universities to embark on quality research that will positively shape and strengthen our educational system so as to compete with other universities globally, adding that research in education is pivotal for national development.

Prof. Okojie who spoke during the 30th convocation ceremony of the University of Port Harcourt, Uniport, revealed that, “the Federal Government is aware of the setbacks as regards research in our universities due to brain drain, loss of research development assistance and weakening links with overseas development partners in the last three decades. This current administration will strive to do more in the educational sector.”

He also stated: “Federal Government had through the Tertiary Education Trustfund, TETfund, Normal and High Impact Intervention and its Assessment Special Intervention funds embarked on the construction of new facilities, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing facilities in Nigeria’s public universities.

“This administration will continue to support the Nigeria Educational System in ensuring that learning, teaching and research facilities are constantly upgraded and up-to-date so as to make our institutions globally competitive.

“The administration will also strengthen regulatory and funding agencies and position them for improvement and efficient quality delivery, in order to impact on society in line with socio-economic and political realities of today. “Universities must, however, strive to build innivative systems to help government solve its socio-economic and political problems,” he said.

The don further stated that the newly revised and upgraded curriculum for full programmes for Nigerian universities are based on the philosophy of training primarily job creators, rather than job seekers. He said: “This will go a long way in adddressing issues of skills acquisition and employability. The capacity building project for improved teachers quality and number is yielding desired results. Over 20,000 university teachers have benefitted from it.”

Prof. Okojie urged universities to enlist support of corporate organisations, alumni associations, philanthropist and government partners to bridge the gaps in government funding of universities in Nigeria, adding that the government and instututions must continue to ensure that those who desire eduction are able to gain admission into universities and receive quality education.

Having noted the problems universities are having with their host communities, he strongly encouraged universities administration to find solutions to the problems. In his words: “Universities are strongly encouraged to continue research activities by finding meaningful and appropriate solutions to the challenges they have with host communities.”

In terms of security, he said that security of lives and property must be uppermost in the minds of university administrations, adding that no meaningful teaching, learning or research activity can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity and tension. He said:

“Governement notes the various problems that are rising regarding the issues of student leaving off campus and risks associated with this. Universities are advised to collaborate with their host communuties and security agencies to ensure peace and security on campuses and the host communities.”

He added that students are the heart of the university and as such should be well catered for. According to him, “Universities must strive to engage the private sector in adequately regulated built, operated and transfer model of students accommodation to ensure that students are not exploited in any way.

He congratulated the new Chancellor of Uniport, HRH. Alhaji Mohammadu Bashir, the Emir of Gwandu, for his installation, adding that, he (Emir) should create a good governance structure to ensure strict adherence to the rich academic rituals and age-long traditions which Nigerian universities are known.

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