Why TETFUND should be extended to private universities, by Francis Wale Oke

The executive and legislative branches of the federal government should work together on amending the TETFUND law to widen the window to accommodate private higher education institutions. It can only be a win-win for everyone in the higher education space. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential; it is the way forward to move the nation forward and achieve the goal of rapid transformation.

It is important to establish that the growing involvement of the private sector in university education in Nigeria has coincided with a decline in the fortunes of public university education in the country, with stakeholders deploring the deplorable state of facilities, overcrowding, poor conditions of service and a number of other factors that have resulted in relentless strikes by workers, with universities repeatedly closed, both, for nearly a year, and with an academic calendar continually faced with disruption.

22 years after graduating from the first group of private universities, not only has the number grown to 99, which is half the number of universities in Nigeria, but institutions have stepped in to fill the void in terms of enrollment and provision of quality education for Nigerians. The quality of the facilities at many of these private institutions is only comparable to the best in the world. The huge and sacrificial investment in human and material resources by the owners of these institutions has not only created a more conducive teaching and learning environment in these private universities, it has created a stable and predictable academic calendar, which must, in part, be responsible for the successes recorded therein.

Faith-based universities have become major engines of economic progress in Nigeria, the products of these institutions playing an exceptional role in different sectors of the economy. Graduates of faith-based universities have particularly distinguished themselves in financial technology solutions and entrepreneurship development. The impact of Sola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi (Paystack), Babatunde Akin-Moses and Onyinye Okonji (Sycamore) testifies to the quality of learning and global development available in these institutions; Joshua Chibueze, Odin Eweniyi, Somto Ifezue (Piggyvest), among others.

There is no doubt that private universities, especially faith-based universities, have played an important role in national transformation and development. This was not only supported by reports on the accreditation exercise conducted by the Commission of Nigerian Universities (NUC), with private universities doing better than their public counterparts, recent results from Nigeria Law School have also strengthened the argument for quality education at private universities, with their products emerging among the best on the bar exam.

The argument that private institutions cannot benefit from public funding is wrong. Just as private sector actors in banking, aeronautics, agriculture and other sectors receive different forms of support and funding, so too should private education operators, which is a even more critical sector, with a fundamental role in national development.

Given the giant strides that have been made by private universities in just two decades of operation, there is no doubt that development there offers us, as a country, an opportunity to go further, by filling the identified gaps in higher education and exceeding our momentum. towards technological progress. This is only possible if we tackle some of the challenges facing these private institutions, which have to do with the lack of access to long-term finance. Unlike public universities which receive government grants, funding sources for private universities come from private companies, investors and tuition fees. Unlike other parts of the world where the culture of endowment is firmly entrenched, with private universities benefiting from it, as well as grants, while tuition fees are paid through student loans, the private universities of the Nigeria depend on investor funding and / or loans obtainable at high interest rates.

The time has come to revise the Higher Education Trust Fund (Institution, etc.) Act 2011 so that private higher education institutions in Nigeria can benefit, alongside their public counterparts, from the Trust Fund for Higher Education (Institution, etc.). higher education (TETFUND). . TETFUND’s mandate for the rehabilitation, restoration and consolidation of higher education in Nigeria can only be partially fulfilled and difficult to fulfill if its focus remains exclusively on public universities, while private universities, which constitute 50 for percent of universities in Nigeria, are excluded, while the fund itself is generated by contributions from the private sector, under the 2 percent school tax paid on the taxable profits of companies registered in Nigeria. Greater progress in the development of higher education can only be made with support, such as that offered by TETFUND, extended to private higher education institutions.

The argument that private institutions cannot benefit from public funding is wrong. Just as private sector actors in banking, aeronautics, agriculture and other sectors receive different forms of support and funding, so too should private education operators, which is a even more critical sector, with a fundamental role in national development. Private universities should be given the same consideration. The argument is further reinforced by the fact that the bulk of investors in higher education are social entrepreneurs, whose primary interest is not profit. Indeed, the statutes which govern the creation of private universities already insist on the fact that they are not-for-profit companies, as provided for in the law on education (national minimum standards and establishment of ) that “the federal government or its accredited agency must verify and be satisfied that (C) the proposed university is registered or incorporated in Nigeria as a charitable enterprise limited by guarantee and that the owners or operators, owners, trustees or administrators are not allowed to profit from the university ”.

The federal government must take into account that circumstances have changed considerably since the creation of the Education Trust Fund (ETF) in 1993, with private universities now established and important players in the higher education space. . With the inclusion of private universities as beneficiaries of TETFUND, institutions, which have, over time, developed robust governance systems that allow greater accountability and transparency, will be able to access funds for physical infrastructure. essential for teaching and learning; institutional material and equipment; research and publications and the training and development of academic staff, as well as other critical needs that would contribute to the overall improvement and maintenance of standards, helping TETFUND to fulfill the mandate for which it was created.

The success of ACEGID… testifies to the wisdom of greater collaboration between public sector intervention agencies, multilateral institutions and private universities. He talks about one of the ways that TETFUND… NITDA… and other agencies can tailor their intervention programs in private higher education institutions for the development of the education sector and Nigeria as a whole.

The executive and legislative branches of the federal government should work together on amending the TETFUND law to widen the window to accommodate private higher education institutions. It can only be a win-win for everyone in the higher education space. Collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential; it is the way forward to move the nation forward and achieve the goal of rapid transformation.

The African Centers of Excellence for the Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID) established in 2013 by the governments of Nigeria, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Benin, Ghana, Cameroon, Togo and Senegal, with the support of the World Bank, to promote regional specialization among university participants and address specific common regional development challenges, as well as strengthen the capacity of participating universities to provide high quality training and applied research in the fields of agriculture, of Health, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), is domiciled at the University of the Redeemer, Ede.

The success recorded by ACEGID, with its various intervention research and diagnostic advances, particularly with Ebola, Lassa fever and COVID-19, is an indicator on the way forward. It attests to the wisdom of greater collaboration between public sector intervention agencies, multilateral institutions and private universities. He talks about one of the ways in which TETFUND, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other agencies can tailor their intervention programs in private higher education institutions for the development of education sector and Nigeria as a whole.

Francis Wale Oke, bishop, is national president of the Nigeria Pentecostal Scholarship and chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University.



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