The reality that some Nigerian universities are running academic programmes that are not approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC), the agency set up by government to supervise university education and activities, no doubt, is a wrong signal coming from the system. Apart from the shock this development has brought to stakeholders, especially university undergraduates and admission seekers, it is an indication that sanity is still a far cry in these ivory towers. Indeed, this laxity speaks volumes about the lapses in the system and the need for NUC to rise more vigorously to its core mandate of monitoring and infusing discipline into the system by enforcing standard and quality control mechanism, which it is set up to uphold.
Without controverting the fact, it is the responsibility of NUC to regulate and supervise academic activities through the instrumentality of accreditation of programmes run by each university at every stage of the growth and development of such courses, without which a university has no permission to run or admit students.
The recent suspension of some academic programmes such as Law, Dentistry, Fine and Applied Arts, Botany and Family Nutrition and Consumer Sciences run by the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) by the National Universities Commission for lack of accreditation is laudable and a welcome development.
By the NUC suspension order, it is now forbidden for OAU to run courses in Law, Dentistry, Medical Rehabilitation and Botany, or to admit fresh students into these programmes. In fact, the order was immediately followed by the directive from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) that candidates that applied to study Law, Dentistry, Fine and Applied Arts, Botany and Family Nutrition and Consumer Sciences for the 2018/2019 academic session at the Obafemi Awolowo University to either change course or university as the university has been constrained from admitting students into those courses. It is really shocking and unbelievable that a university like OAU, with its nobility in its 56 years of existence, could be caught in the web of running unaccredited programmes.
More worrisome is the revelation that this would not be the first time the university’s Law programme would run into such mucky water of NUC’s quality control mechanism for failing to meet accreditation requirements.
The first time was in 2016 when the university’s Law Faculty was suspended by the Commission for want of accreditation, while in the same circumstance, Botany programme, which is currently suspended, had never got full accreditation since the university commenced the programme. Although, the authorities of the university has promised to sort the matter out latest this month and that everything would have back to shape, it blamed the non-accreditation of some courses run by the institution on NUC’s existing regulations, which it claimed did not allow for what it called “back to back interim status.”
But, whatever posture the university is taking, we condemn the institution’s negligence and failure in its responsibilities to do the needful by upgrading its facilities and putting the programmes on a better stream, having realised that the courses were sick and lacked accreditation status. As if that would be enough to exonerate it from the infraction, the university, in its lame explanation to justify its failure and incapacitation, said a general accreditation exercise was conducted across all universities in December 2017 and that the non-accreditation of some programmes cut across all universities and not peculiar to OAU.
“There are 106 programmes in the university, of which the five mentioned above have issues with accreditation. Although all these programmes actually had interim status during the last exercise,” the university was quoted as saying.
The fact that the university’s management mentioned that it was working assiduously to address the issues raised by NUC in suspending the programmes with the hope of restoring the courses and rescue their souls in the forthcoming accreditation exercise slated for November, this year, would have been enough, rather than trying to justify this anomaly.
It is on this note that universities running unaccredited courses should realise that apart from further bringing the system down in the face of crises of standard or impugned on the credibility of the particular institutions, they also needed to be reminded that their action and inaction will jeopardise the future of the students.
In as much as we commend the NUC and JAMB for rising up to their responsibilities of saving the Nigerian university education from its present rot, NUC in particular, should, as a matter of exigency, go a mile further to enforce and ensure compliance by all universities with the accreditation benchmark and quality assurance control mechanism.