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UI @70: Celebrations of excellence commences

Seventy years of academic excellence celebration of the University of Ibadan commenced on 5th October 2018 by 5 p.m as Prof. O.S. Adegoke, an octogenarian, 53 years experienced University Teacher_cum_an Entrepreneur delivered a public lecture titled “UI@70: STRATEGIES FOR ATTAINING WORLD CLASS STATUS BY 2028 AND BEYOND” at Trenchard Hall. In attendance were the Vice Chancellor himself, Prof. Abel Idowu Olayinka, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council, Nde Waklek Joshua Mutka, MNI, other members of the Governing Council of the University; Professor A.A. Aderinto (DVC Academic), Professor Kolawole Adebowale (DVC Admin), Professor Olanike Adeyemo (DVC Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnership), Mrs. Olubunmi Faluyi (University Registrar), Mr. Tunji Oladejo (UI Public Relations Officer) and Deans, Visitors and Dignitaries and Students.

During the Prof.’s introductory message, he said, “… I was an undergraduate of the University College Ibadan, famously known as ‘UCI’. I spent four precious years of my youthful life(1958-1962) as a student in the Faculty of Science of this great University. I graduated with a 2nd Class Upper Division degree in Zoology, with specialization in Entomology. I enjoyed every moment of my time then. The quality of education was very high. So was discipline and sense of community life. Student Hostels we’re of high quality, with the majority of the students having a room to himself or herself. Electricity and water supply was stable and students could study freely in the well-equipped University Library till 10:00 pm every day”.

“…one weekend every month, the students of each Hall of Residence had the privilege of sitting at a formal Dinner with senior Academic and Administrative Staff who are assigned to each Hall. The dinner was presided over by the Hall Master who was a very senior Professor. At the dinner, we were exposed to the quality of life and the kind of interactions that occur outside the University and in the world at large. That was, in my opinion, a wonderful foresight by the Founders of the University. Indeed, the University College Ibadan (UCI), paved the way for me to secure, at first attempt, admission to the Graduate Program of the Department of Paleontology of the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A”, he added.

The Octogenarian and seasoned University Teacher-cum-Entrepreneur defined Universities as “engines of growth, innovation and wealth creation”. More have to be done in our Nigerian Universities (especially UI as it clocks 70 years) in order to attain a reasonable position in the Global Ranking. “Our Nigerian Universities should not be content with being listed as unclassified Ivory Tower Institutions that concentrate their energy largely on teaching and some research only.” He then analysed three (3) key properties and virtues that are globally associated with top-ranked Universities. A University like UI which celebrates 70 years of founding must strive to be:

  1. The engine of Growth,
  2. Center of innovation and Excellence, and
  3. The agent of Development and Wealth Creation.

These virtues must be developed not only for ourselves and the University community but also for individuals with whom we have work and social contact, for our surrounding communities and for the Nation at large. As a University, it must be a problem solver. Many challenges faced by Nigeria of now can be provided solutions to from UI. “Wealth creation follows only those who develop solutions to problems,” the Prof. said.

He, however, blamed the government for poor funding of the Institutions, also, underestimation of Nigerian graduates (and schools) about their competency. Hence, they go overseas to seek the services of Foreigners in transforming the technological development needed here. “We have to prove them wrong”, he said.

He then explained how he initiated the Geological Consultancy Unit (GCU) at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) in 1974 when he was 37 years old. “Since then, the Consultancy Unit has been ever supportive to the administration of the University and as well cater for many other things(like the welfare of the staff and students who go on a fieldwork) without for a dime from the federal government.

Prof. Soji Oluwole (BSc. Physiology, Ibadan, MBBS, Ibadan), an in-law to the Professor also wrote about the University healthcare sector as a case study how the standard of the institution falls globally. “The gross underfunding of health care by our government has resulted in the anaemic state of our healthcare system. This has additionally resulted in disillusion and dissatisfaction of physicians, nurses and pharmacists because they have no option but practice substandard medicine that meets the expectations of neither healthcare professionals nor their patients. The ensuing discontent and dissatisfaction with the practice of medicine has reached epidemic proportions and has led to the departure of several well-trained health professionals from our major hospitals to take jobs abroad. It is estimated that the number of Nigeria trained physicians who left the country is more than the number of Nigerian trained physicians who are practising in Nigeria”. Oluwole in his statement admonished the Federal government to upgrade the standard of the healthcare sector by equipping all healthcare institutions with modern technology and by increasing the percentage of total government expenditure on healthcare to meet WHO standard. “If proper research can be done by the health care system of the University of Ibadan through funding from the government, with no doubt, UI will take lead not only in Nigeria or Africa alone, it will also rise up from the position it is in the global ranking, Adegoke buttressed.

In understanding how the global ranking works, Adegoke made clear that there are three leading Ranking Agencies. These are TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION (THE), QUAC CHIARELLI (QS) and ACADEMIC RANKING OF WORLD UNIVERSITIES (ARWU). The parameters used in ranking Universities by ARWU and QS include: “quality of teaching, quality of research, international outlook and reputation, number of Alumni in the Faculty Staff, academic peer preview, faculty-student ratio, citation in international journals, international student ratio, international staff ratio, number of Nobel prize winners and Field Medalists, and Per-capita performance ( income generated) of the University.

How can UI achieve these parameters so it can attain a global rating like top 100 or better still top 50 in the next decade(2028) or two decades (2038)? Adegoke recommended that the long-term developmental plans should be prepared for each an every one of the University’s Faculties and Departments as well as specialized Institutes by teams of experts carefully selected by the University from local staff and experts in the diaspora. This was envisioned to enhance the school’s ambition of attaining a place within the top 100 in one or two decades. To attain this goal, a considerable level of autonomy is needed.

On Income: The Prof. urged the school management to actively invest some time and fund in engaging all its former Staff and Alumni, students, friends, benefactors and well-wishers, both at home and in diaspora, Nigerians of all walks of life, Governmental agencies, particularly TetFund, PTDF, NUC and other government ministries and Agencies, at both state and Federal levels to find ways in which they can contribute to its Endowment Fund. This is believed to increase the Per-capita of the University.

On the pursuit of international recognition: “The University of Ibadan should be one in which there is a relentless pursuit of academic excellence, creative brilliance, and a deep commitment to our own values in the next decade and beyond. The University should go back to the days when it admitted students, not only from Nigeria but from the world over. We must deliberately create the environment for this to happen.”. He addressed. Foreign Staff can as well be hired for some time and their names will be included in the staff record as part of the University’s staff.

He concluded his presentation by appealing to all present, particularly all Academic and Non Academic Staff to begin with a resolution and determination to abolish the disruption to the University Calendar for whatever reason so that an academic year without any disruption to academic work would be celebrated again in UI as it happened during his days while in UI. “Throughout my four years in the University, we had no cause to go on useless strike,” he said.

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