From Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti
The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Prof Suleiman Bogoro, has identified inadequate investment in the area of research in the country’s universities as a crucial factor that has been frustrating the actualisation of major development of the country.
He said that as part of efforts to boost the country’s ivory towers statures in the global reckoning, the federal government agency had signed Memoranda of Understanding with foreign universities.
Bogoro said this at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti(ABUAD), on Saturday, while delivering a lecture entitled “University As Catalyst for Regional Economic Development” to mark the 12th founder’s anniversary and 9th convocation ceremonies of the institution.
The TETFund Executive Secretary, who noted that no country can grow in innovation without adequate investment and exploration in research, admonished administrators of universities on the need to highly regard research.
‘Endowment, research foundations are the DNA of Ivory towers over time. But sadly in our country, we are treating universities as if they are political enclaves, rather than enclaves or platforms for deepening knowledge, creating knowledge and innovation, which is beyond average; that is why universities are called the ivory towers,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, we have gone in the wrong direction for quite a while. Sometimes, you see square pegs not being placed in square holes, even within the university system and these are areas that bother us.
‘If you do not have somebody that believes, promote, encourages and support problems solving research presiding over the university, then that university is destroyed. I just hope we are able to change this for our nation to grow.’
He explained that TETfund has been striving hard to make Nigerian universities gain recognition globally, by signing MoUs with regards to using the platforms to catalyse regional economic development.
‘As part of the new paradigm at TETFund, we are committed to the internationalization of our tertiary institutions especially our universities. We are conversant with the ranking indices, metrics and parameters of universities globally.
‘We are equally aware of the present status and positions of our universities on the parametric tables of global ranking of universities. TETfund under my leadership is committed to ensuring improvement and we are indeed changing the narratives in our universities.
‘A case study is the new ranking status of University of Lagos and University of Ibadan globally. The improvement has been linked to the new R&D driving vigour of TETfund and ongoing innovative bold actions especially the prioritization of content development that is disrupting the ugly status quo.’
Speaking further, the TETFUND boss said the agency in May 2020, secured a 25% tuitions discount for Nigerian sponsored TETFUNDs’ scholars to undergo PhD degrees at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
‘This historic MoU was signed at the peak of the first wave of COVID-19. The MoU was significant because both the World Education Service (WES) and Test of English Language requirements for TETfund’s scholars studying at MSU under this agreement were waived.’
The founder of ABUAD, Aare Afe Babalola(SAN), in his submission, said there is a need for the law establishing TETFUND to be reworked to allow for private universities to benefit from funding from the agency.
Babalola was also of the opinion that universities that are above 30 years shouldn’t be given funding by TETFUND for infrastructure development, clarifying that such monies were being allegedly expended on frivolities.
‘Instead of giving any well-established universities monies to build guest houses, they should be given funds for research and innovation,’ he said.