The Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Prof. Adebiyi Daramola, has expressed concern over the alleged indiscriminate award of first class degrees to graduating students of private universities in the country.
He described the action as a marketing strategy adopted by private university operators to woo wealthy individuals who are looking for institutions that would make their children first class graduates.
Daramola, who said this while addressing journalists in his office on Thursday, cautioned managements of private universities against commercialisation of first class degrees.
Rather, he said, they should award such to brilliant students who will utilise their skills to contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
Daramola said it saddens his heart when private institutions with lesser number of graduating students produce higher number of first class grades while public universities with higher number of students award few first class grades to deserving students who had exhibited excellence in their studies.
He said, “Many employers of labour would not touch these graduates with a long pole because academic standards have been compromised by the authorities of these universities, because of funding. Second class holders in public universities perform better than the so-called first class degrees obtained in the private universities.
“Many private universities are marketing their schools and are capitalising on gullible parents. All they are doing is to attract parents to send their children to their universities by making them believe their children can come out with first class.
“There was a friend of mine who was working with an insurance company in Lagos. The criterion is having first class before they could employ. First class products of one of the private universities applied, but none of them passed the aptitude test while second class honours from federal universities applied and they passed.”
Daramola, however, said there was nothing the Committee of Vice-Chancellors could do about the grading of certificates by the affected universities because most of the private universities are set up as business ventures.
He added, “Private universities are set up to make profit. The proprietors must make profit. A man who has gone to the bank to borrow money to set up a university, what are you going to tell him that he will listen to?
“In the Committee of Vice-Chancellors, we have different orientations. Although most of the VCs of the private universities are from conventional universities, their employers dictate what happens. We have serious governance problem in private universities.
“A VC once told me that the proprietor of his university expelled a student and he was not aware. He said the proprietor just saw the student and said, ‘You, go and pack your load and leave my university.’ Of course, it is his university.”
Daramola said that the goal of FUTA was to produce graduates who would become entrepreneurs the moment they graduate, instead of looking for employment in the labour market.
This, he said, informed the introduction of a centre for entrepreneurial training by the institution.
He also said the university had started short-term training programmes for artisans who would want to broaden their skills and learn new techniques in their trade.
Apart from infrastructural development embarked upon by the authorities of FUTA since he assumed office a year ago, Daramola said the institution has also invested in Information Communication Technology, electricity and roads construction.
He said, “The university is moving from analogue teaching to digital, while all the classrooms in the institution have been upgraded with e-learning facilities.”
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