University autonomy comes with responsibilities – JAMB Registrar

Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, says granting full autonomy to universities comes with accountability and responsibility for sustainable development.

The Registrar of JAMB said this in the Nsukka area of Enugu State on Thursday when he delivered a lecture.

The lecture was titled: “Institutional Autonomy, Accountability and the Quest for Efficient Governance of Nigerian Universities.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the lecture was in honour of Prof. Benjamin Chukwuma Ozumba, the 14th and former Vice Chancellor of UNN, to mark his retirement from the university service and his 70th birthday.

He said discourse on University autonomy and accountability had become complicated in recent years given that diverse opinions of segments of society had developed different notions of what these would be to universities.

He said: “It is in the interest of every nation to protect both academic freedom and institutional autonomy in the universities for improved productivity in research and innovation.

“Critical questions must be asked on how universities have been able to utilise the money given to them in the interest of the country’s education and economic development.

“Universities must know that they have the responsibility of quality teaching, research and community service as well as proffering solutions to critical national issues and being accountable to the government.”

The JAMB boss urged the government and the university to enumerate their responsibilities to each other rather than undue emphasis on rights.

He said: “It should also understand that no right is absolute.

“This will facilitate their genuine understanding and management of expectations.

“Universities should actively engage in peer-review and self-regulatory measures toward quality assurance and accountability.”

According to Oloyede, some African countries such as Ghana and Kenya visitation panels are constituted by the universities themselves for review and improvement in service-delivery and accountability.

He explained that if the accountability annual report and community service are efficiently deployed, it would further assure the public and government of the commitment of the university to high ethical standards and excellence.

Ozumba, in his valedictory lecture, titled: “The Role of Tertiary Institution in Nation Building: My Experience in University of Nigeria,” said all nations that are doing well in the world like US, UK and China focused seriously on education by providing their citizens with cheap and accessible education.

“The great asset to nation building is human capital development, which can only be achieved through education,” he said.

Ozumba urged the government to always be determined to make adequate provision for effective funding of education in all annual budgets.

He said: “Government should endeavour to earmark 26 percent of the total budget for educational development as recommended by the United Nations.

“The government can decide to adopt our innovation templates and leadership style which repositioned UNN as a towering centre of learning and skill development.”

The former VC thanked Oloyede for delivering a lecture in his honour.

He said he was happy and excited in retirement because the university recorded many achievements under his watch and that “people who worked with me during my tenure as VC in UNN are occupying top positions now as well as being VCs of many universities”.

In his remarks, Prof. Charles Igwe, the Vice-chancellor of UNN, commended the JAMB Registrar for delivering the lecture in honour of Prof. Ozumba’s retirement from civil service and described the topic of the lecture as topical.

“The topic of this special lecture is an interesting and topical one considering that the issue of university autonomy is one of the most interesting, misunderstood and controversial policies as far as education is concerned in the country,” he said.

Igwe said Ozumba, a former Provost, College of Medicine UNN and VC of the university, recorded many achievements as the 14th Vice-chancellor of the UNN as the university would forever remain grateful to him.

In his remarks, the representative of Anambra North Senatorial District, Tony Nwoye, described Ozumba as a father and role model to many people.

“That I am a Medical Doctor now is as a result of his fatherly advice to me,” he said.

Nwoye said that UNN as the first university in the country needed N20 billion intervention from the Federal Government to upgrade infrastructures, boost teaching and learning.

He said: “I will make this request on the floor of the Senate.

“I ask my friend, the JAMB Registrar, to help tell the Presidency of this intervention.”

The highlight of the occasion was the cutting of Ozumba’s retirement and 70th birthday cake.

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