POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO SOLVING MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES
It has become obvious that the broad aims of producing high-level manpower for national development for which the university education is meant for is not really being achieved as a result of the multifaceted problem bedevils the governance of the university system. It therefore becomes necessary to suggest ways of making the system more effective and efficient in relation to contemporary Nigerian society
- Adequate funding:
The gross under-funding of the educational system in the country has been rendering the university system incapacitated. Money is an absolutely input of any education system. It provides the essential purchasing power with which education acquires its human and physical inputs. The university system has not had the financial resources necessary to maintain educational quality in the midst of significant enrollment explosion.
Also, UNESCO recommended 26% of the total budget of a nation to be allocated to education but the Longe commission of 1991 observed that the percentage of budgetary allocation to education has never exceeded 10%. Governments should therefore allocate more funds to the universities so that they can be more effective in their day-to-day operations. The universities should also seek alternative sources of revenue generation to argument what the government allocates to them.
Apart from the release of fund, there is the dire need for an effective monitoring of the management of fund presently being allocated to the sector, as efforts should be intensify to improve on what is currently being allocated to the system. As a means of ensuring effective management of fund, it is suggested that reliable accounting system should be established in each Nigerian university to guarantee accountability, honesty and transparency.
- Provision of adequate infrastructures:
If quality is to be enhanced in our nation’s universities these days, the infrastructure base of the system needs to be improved upon.The present situation calls for an urgent need for the government to make available enough funds for the rehabilitation of existing facilities. Governments should intensify efforts in providing more physical facilities in the universities. Besides, corporate, bodies, philanthropists and alumni associations should also assist in the provision of these facilities to aid effective teaching-learning activities in order to achieve the academic goals of university education for national development. There is need for a serious expansion of physical facilities and equipment to meet the increasing student population. However, there is the need to take serious look at the maintenance culture, which is lacking in an average Nigerian, as this will go a long way to reduce the rate of decay of the existing facilities.
- Improved remuneration of staff:
In order to attract best brains to the university system the personal emoluments of university staff may have to be revisited.A situation where a young graduate who is fortunate to take up job outside the unified public service immediately starts to earn salaries sometimes twice his professor’s annual income does not augur well for staff motivation and stability of tenure in the Nigerian university system. If education is well-funded, pay-package of academics reviewed upward and the conditions of service improved, academics would not have to go abroad looking for greener pasture.
- Autonomy to universities:
The issue of autonomy to varsities is a matter of necessity if quality output is expected, uninterrupted academic calendar is to be guaranteed, an enabling teaching-learning environment is to be assured and the incessant face-off between the ASUU and the government to be put to rest. The struggle for university autonomy has been a long-standing in the university system in Nigeria. For a university to be truly autonomous, the state control must be minimum, limited to requirements of proper utilization of funds and, conformity to the broad objectives of national policy. There cannot be absolute autonomy, but a critical mass of qualified autonomy is needed for a university to operate as a functioning university. However, these areas of autonomy should be jointly agreed upon by both the government and the stakeholders of the university system (ASUU inclusive).
- Re-appraisal of the role of university education
University education in Nigeria today needs a total overhauling and restructuring, this reform is required to improve the performance of the system. A reform in university programme is highly necessary and long overdue. Better training for university students should be vigorously pursued. The curriculum need be reformed in content and in methodology to give room for the spirit of inquiry, discovery and experimentation. The 60; 40 Science: Humanities placement policy has not been implemented resulting in overproduction of humanities graduates while some areas of critical importance have been neglected. It has therefore become necessary to redesign the university education to become purely practical oriented for skill acquisition. There is the need to make plans projections on the nation’s manpower needs in a bid to integrate this into university programmes. The NUC and the Nigerian Manpower Board are in the position to alert universities on the future manpower requirements of the country.
- Regulation of students’ unionism
To reduce the extent of volatile and militant students’ unionism in campus, it is advisable that the students are involved in decision-making particularly on issues that borders on their welfare. The followings can be used as means of curbing students’ crisis, (1) university administrator should avoid being high-handed with students. (2) Vice chancellors should make themselves accessible to students (3) University administrator should establish frequent forums for negotiation, dialogues and exchanging of ideas between students and university administrators.
- Curtail secret cults:
Eradicating cultism in Nigerian universities is a joint effort of all the stakeholders (government, university authority, religious leaders, students, and parents). They should come together and decide on how cases of cultism should be dealt with as research evidences have shown that most cult members are children of the highly placed in the society.
- De-politicize the university system:
The autonomy to universities would help reduce the extent of political interference in the affairs of these varsities most especially in the appointment/selection of key principle officials of the university. The academics should be free to choose who their head should be without the influence of the visitor. Where this situation is not free, then the governance of the system will still depend on external influence. The place of school head in the administration of school cannot be over-emphasized, therefore, there is need to follow the conditions for the appointment to the letter. The issues of tribalism, political interference, etc should be disregarded in the appointment of heads. The idea of using visitation panels to witch-hunt the Vice-chancellors and university authorities should be discarded. The Visitation Panels should be made to take the due process.
The need for university education stems from the fact that the system is responsible for the development and production of high-level manpower within the context of the needs of the nation. It has been seen that the university system, which is the bedrock of development in the country is bisected with myriads of problems. There include: financial crisis, deteriorated infrastructure, brain-drain, erosion of university autonomy, graduate unemployment, volatile and militant students’ unionism, secret cults, examination malpractices, sexual harassment, drug addiction and so on.
However, for meaningful development to take place in the university system, the government must be ready to address the issue of funding the system adequately. Adequate finance will help solve the problem of infrastructure. The government should as a matter of national importance review upward the pay-package for academics; give consent to the university autonomy being clamouring for by the academics. It is also recommended that there is the need to make plans projections on the nation’s manpower needs in a bid to integrate this into university programmes. The NUC and the Nigerian Manpower Board are in the position to alert universities on the future manpower requirements of the country.