education: Vice chancellor, Anchor University, Ayobo, Lagos (AUL), Prof. Samuel Bandele, in this interview, spoke about private universities, quality of graduates, research grants and attitude of lecturers in public universities to their students.
He was the first VC of The University of Education, Ikere-Ekiti (TUNEDIK), and later the University of Science and Technology, Ifaki (USTI), before the two institutions were merged with the former University of Ado-Ekiti to become Ekiti State University (EKSU).
You assumed office seven months ago, how far, so far?
I want to give all the glory to God for giving me the opportunity to preside over this university. It has been a very enriching and interesting experience. In the community, we have the majority of people as Christians, who are committed to Christ; therefore it is easy for us to understand our language.
It is easy for us to interact together. As a vice chancellor, I can still correct and rebuke staff and students, just as a father rebukes his children. In all honesty, being Vice-Chancellor, Anchor University has been very rewarding.
You have been vice chancellor three times in public universities. Are there differences between public universities and private ones?
There are differences but no major differences between a public university and a private university. A university is a universal environment, aside from some little peculiarities and core values.
Honestly, a university should be run as a university. That’s what I am pursuing. I cannot be a VC in a public university, then come to AUL and quickly forget what a globally accepted university should be.
In terms of differences in operations, we are under the same umbrella, which is the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB). We cannot think of admitting students without thinking of the NUC and JAMB.
Also, we are producing the same students for the country and global market. So, on a global note, all universities are the same, except for some little differences. For example, in the area of the proprietor, the proprietor of a public university is the government whether at the national or state level, while the proprietor of the private university could be a group, a church, an organization, or an individual.
From my own perspective, a private university is different from a public university in terms of proprietorship, core values, discipline, and focus. Also, it is the government that helps with the funding of the public institutions, while the private institutions cater to themselves.
How far have you gone with the implementation of your vision for AUL?
The Lord has been helping me. No man is absolute in wisdom. Also, the principal officers, the staff, and the students have been supportive.
The Chancellor, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, who is a man of the globe, is a very disciplined man, a scholar, and understands how a university should be run and has left us to run it. I came to this university with three key visions Enrolment, when I came on board the number I met on the ground was not acceptable to me. This is a university, not a research institute or forest.
Enrichment, private institutions are not run by the government and no TETFund grants. Engagement, you cannot do it alone, others must be engaged too. I have to engage my management, the principal officers, the staff, and the students, which I have radically done.
You must know that these triple Es cannot be achieved without an underlining triple As. To achieve these three visions, I have three methods that have been helping me. I have not said them before.
I realise that to achieve these three visions I have to do it aggressively. Things don’t go too easily. People want to be pushed before they do what they ought to do and it will not be so.
I said I would also do it in agreement when we went to take decisions concerning fundamental issues in the university; we have to agree together the VC cannot do it alone. Then, lastly, we have aggregation. I don’t want to do everything together at a go, we have to take them one step after the other.
Should private institutions be included in getting TETfund grants?
The government should not be completely coaxed into sponsoring private institutions, because there will be bandwagon influence. People like free things, so when they see that the government is now sponsoring private institutions, even those without any vision and mission and even funds, knowing that government will support them, will start to establish private universities.
In that regard, I will like to suggest that the government should be cautious about it. I believe there are some areas where the government should still be able to give support to private institutions like celebrating excellence. But they should do it with caution so that it will not be misused.
How do you see ASUU’s president’s claim that private universities award first class degree to students indiscriminately?
It is normal to talk like that. It is where you are that you know. Some public institutions, are they properly managed in terms of quality? Where there are human factors, there are bound to be redeemable errors. Errors will happen because they are humans.
If anybody from a public university speaks before me, I will ask them to keep quiet. Are there no public schools where lecturers will come for lectures two weeks before the exam and students will still be examined? Are there no lecturers that are lazy and come to class to be saying nonsense?
I have spoken about public institutions, let me also talk about private institutions. Maybe the proprietor of the school can take money there and say go and pass the students that are frauds. It is fraud to pass someone who should not be passed. That is why public institutions are fighting to say that the certificate in private institutions is substandard.
The human redeemable errors are at both levels. If we want to weigh it, we will say, which certificate is better here or there? Is it public institutions where lecturers will not come to class, there is sexual harassment and so on? All these may not happen in a private institution, but if the proprietor is too overzealous to make money and he’s saying go and pass them.
Let me say, quality education gives birth to quality performance. Some private institutions have quality education and they don’t go on strike. This allows them to complete the syllabus. Private institutions don’t also leave students to fail.
In some public institutions, some lecturers celebrate failure. They think the more students fail that is what makes them good lecturers. But in a private institution, they are monitored. It is customary in private institutions that if you teach you must also look for feedback early by conducting tests, not that you wait for students to finally fail.
Education is to make the life of recipients better not to destroy them. Education is like a factory process. That’s what I’m pursuing in AUL. If possible all my students will make first class. I want them to go and test that first class elsewhere whether it is fake or quality.
JAMB ensures that the students that are admitted into the universities are trainable. Failure, in the end, will be attributed to making factors, teacher factors, facility factors, and time management. The factors are attributable to the institution and not to JAMB because it is the input.
If people are passing into private institutions it is because they are working towards it. During the holiday, we set up a summer school for students that fail some courses, because we care. What am saying is that it is neither here nor there. Private institutions cannot accuse public institutions and vice versa.
ASUU president also described private universities as quacks. What is your reaction?
I don’t understand if private institutions are quacks. The lecturers in these institutions are from the public institutions and the same NUC and JAMB monitor us.
I don’t know but if he said it, it is personal to him and everybody is free to say anything they want. I am an analyst, so the quack in this context does not seem to be understandable to me.
You said you want to improve enrolment, how?
I will say that private institutions should labour more than public institutions. And that is why enrolment is part of my vision. The reason is that there is no government support in terms of funds and terms costs incurred by parents and students can be the limit. When you want value for your children and for the future you can consider private.
Some secondary schools charge more than we charge. Some charge more than three million naira, while we charge N500,000 per year and the highest now is N600,000. There should be more enlightenment and publicity for parents to know that they can still have quality education, so they can bring their children to AUL.
How can the lingering ASUU strike be resolved?
No party should feel too big to dialogue. My own antidote is that they should come together again and discuss. The government should grant
ASUU their demands because their demands are not selfish requests. They are demands that will help better the universities in this country.
Most of the universities now are not properly run. Thank God for TETFund. When we are talking about ASUU, we are talking about those building this country. What ASUU is demanding is what dons in the university are qualified for.
Are AUL courses accredited and what new ones are you introducing?
All our courses at Anchor University are accredited. I’m not so sure but nearly all the courses we submitted have been accredited. We are introducing professional courses. I believe it is part of what has radically affected our enrolment.
Professional courses are Law, Nursing, Architecture, Medical Laboratory Science and Public Health. We are also introducing postgraduate courses. The NUC resource verification team has come. From what I’ve seen we will have a good result by God’s grace.
We are introducing three postgraduate courses, Computer Science, Microbiology and Business Administration. This is our first time introducing the postgraduate study and you know there are procedures. A university has to graduate at least two sets before it can run postgraduate courses and we have graduated two sets already.
What are the research activities going on in AUL?
A lot of in-depth contemporary research is going on this campus. One thing I learnt is that we rank very high in terms of research outputs. We have scholars in AUL. As I’m talking to you now our staff, who is in charge of our space lab, who has done some things that have attracted grants, is currently in Ireland undertaking another research. May the grace of God rank very high.
We engage our students in activities. Our students are included in terms of research. For example, we ensure that our final-year students are involved in critical research that can even be published. That it will not just end in binding their projects alone but also for it to be published.
Our lecturers before they embark on any research project go out and look for companies and industries to collaborate with. For instance, Mass Communications students collaborate with a radio or television station or print media to carry out research. But they’re still students and the level of research they can work on is limited.