Private universities are ready to reopen – Pro-Chancellors
The pro -chancellors of private universities have decried the continued shutdown of the country’ s ivory towers by the Federal Government since the outbreak of COVID -19, saying failure to reopen them will have adverse effect on the continued viability of the institutions.
The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Private Universities urged the Federal Government to approve the reopening of private universities in August following sustained efforts to comply with the guidelines for reopening “ in view of the contributions that private universities have continued to make in the manpower training and development in Nigeria . ”
“ Private universities are ready to reopen, having put in place all the necessary requirements and protocols specified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID -19 to ensure safe and secure campuses . We are prepared to open in phases , first with the graduating students , and probably with the first year students , ” the committee stated .
A statement by the Head , Corporate Affairs Unit, Afe Babalola University, Tunde Olofintila , titled: ‘ CPCPU urges FG to reopen private universities’ , said the pro-chancellors made their position known in a communiqué signed by a former Minister of Education and ABUAD Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, at the end of an emergency online meeting of the CPCPU, which held on Saturday, July 25, 2020.
The communiqué stated, “ Our universities have resolved to mobilise relevant resources in our universities across the country to undertake researches that address the challenges of the pandemic for the wider benefit of the Nigerian populace and the world as a whole .
“ Indeed , further closure of our universities will be sounding a death knell to the continued viability of our institutions. In particular , the demise of private universities will increasingly become imminent and gravely undermine their role in assisting government in the provision of jobs , education for the populace and overall civil security . ”
This, the pro -chancellors said , was in view of the fact that “ private universities rely solely on student enrolment and fees , which are only realisable if the universities are open . ”
“ It is globally acknowledged that prompt solutions to economic, medical and scientific problems are best secured through the active participation of universities as knowledge workers through the performance of their teaching and research functions, ” the communiqué added .
The pro -chancellors affirmed the need for special grants from the Central Bank of Nigeria and Tertiary Education Trust Fund to cushion the effect of COVID -19 pandemic and the request submitted to the CBN for dedicated fund as palliatives to private universities to facilitate their efforts in reopening their institutions.
“ Private universities remain fully committed to producing competent graduates in a timely manner through our ethical standards and settings , building credible leadership and followership for a better Nigeria . Thus , we seek the full support of government as is the case in advanced countries of the world , ” the communiqué stated.
While faulting the lingering discrimination against private institutions in the various interventions by TETFUND , which are currently being enjoyed solely by public institutions, the pro -chancellors said , “ The plea is that the government should address this situation as the law setting up TETFUND expects it to intervene in all tertiary institutions without discrimination .
“ Towards this end , and as a starter , the government should fund scholarships to support aspiring but indigent private university candidates as well as provide special grants towards enabling private universities reduce , if not eliminate , tuition fees across the board for their students . ”