OUTGOING UI VC SAYS MORE VARSITIES WON'T SOLVE ACCESS PROBLEM
Outgoing Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Olufemi Bamiro, has deplored the decision of the Federal Government to establish six more universities in the country. He said it would not solve the problem of access to tertiary education plaguing the country. Instead, Bamiro, whose tenure elapses today, proposed expansion of the distant learning system in higher institutions of learning.
He spoke at a farewell interactive session with reporters at the VC's lodge on campus at the weekend.
The Federal Government had recently announced establishment of the universities, with one in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country, to ease the crisis of access to education.
But, while acknowledging the disproportion in the number of eligible candidates seeking admission into universities and other tertiary institutions, Bamiro said government's measure, which, he described as 'brick and mortar approach,' was too simplistic a method that would not work.
In his view, apart from the problem of staffing, the huge resources to put up structures, recruit new staff, etc. could easily be channelled into strengthening existing universities, which, he said, should be encouraged to develop and expand their open distant learning systems.
His words: 'We have access problem, but the way we go about addressing it cannot solve the problem. Building more universities is not the solution. 'We have 104 universities in the country and there is short fall of about 7,000 academic staff to sustain them.'
He observed that advancement in technology globally had made face-to-face contact with lecturers obsolete, adding that chunk of information in all academic fields was available on the internet, stressing that the trend now was for lecturers to serve as mere facilitators of knowledge acquisition, which had made distant learning a better choice.
Prof. Bamiro argued that distant learning was not inferior to regular university programme, observing that many African leaders and distinguished professionals got their academic qualifications through correspondence tutorial programmes.
'If properly implemented, distance learning programmes cannot be inferior. We only need to leverage on the existing universities in the country and make lecturers facilitators in the arrangement'.
He disclosed that within its short period of introduction, the UI's distance learning centre has graduated more students than the university's regular programmes.
Bamiro, who is credited with astounding accomplishments including improving the aesthetics and campus environment, internally generated revenue and attraction of research grants into the university attributed his administration's success to his vision and cooperation of a team, who assisted him to implement them.
'There is no magic wand except that we have visions and the plans to achieve them. We also have the people who are committed to working out the plans. That was what made it easy for the institution. I already had the vision of what I wanted to achieve before I came in. I also had the opportunity of working closely with a number of Vice Chancellors before I became one. So, I have good idea of what the university needs and how to get them done,' he said.
Prof. Bamiro said his successor would do much more if he made use of the existing structure.
On the sad moments of the five-year term, the outgoing VC named the day he lost his wife, strikes by unions within the university, and the denial of admission to qualified young people for lack of space.
Bamiro ruled out taking to politics, stressing that he hoped to return to the classroom, after taking a well deserved sabbatical leave. 'I like to go back to class. My department, which was the best in the country, has now been depleted. Some of our good hands have taken appointments for higher services elsewhere. 'I want to spend my one-year sabbatical to charge myself intellectually so that I will go back to class and make my contribution. As for political appointment, count me out,'