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Degree Mills: Our expectations from probe panel — ASUU, NANS, NAPTAN

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Undercover journalist, Umar Audu, who received his certificate from a Cotonou-based University in Benin Republic like a pizza within six weeks.

As the investigative panel constituted by the Federal Government to probe fake universities selling credentials to Nigerians begins its work, critical stakeholders in the sector have called for a thorough job that must not spare anybody or organisation found culpable.

They have also charged the Prof. Jibrila Amin-led panel to see itself as being on a mission to redeem the image of the sector and take the assignment with all sense of seriousness.

The stakeholders include university lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, and the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria, NAPTAN.

What ASUU wants

The Lagos Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Prof. Adelaja Odukoya, said the academic union would want nothing but maximum sanction for anybody found culpable.

“What is there to expect from the probe of fake universities but maximum sanction for the criminality? The promoters of fake universities and their collaborators must not be spared. Those who patronise such fake institutions should also be sanctioned.

From head to toe, it is sheer criminality. “One can imagine the havoc such criminal act has wreaked on the society.

People giving out certificates they are not competent to give and people clutching and parading certificates they cannot defend. Some incompetent persons would have been occupying sensitive positions using such fake certificates to get there.

“This is to also advise members of the panel to take their assignment seriously. It is not just an assignment that members would just see as means of travelling up and down and earning money. The reputation of higher education is at stake. They must see their assignment as very important and must be accorded the seriousness it deserves,” he stated.

NANS speaks

The President of NANS, Comrade Lucky Emonefe, said the student body expects a thorough job to be done. “We expect a thorough job to be done.

Doing so will save Nigerian students from the horror of spending time, energy, and resources to patronise worthless schools and be given worthless certificates.

“The panel must be thorough in their job, and as well get rid of promoters and collaborators within and outside the country promoting fake universities. They should all be exposed and duly punished. Nobody should be spared. We are for quality and affordable education for Nigerian youths,” he opined.

Parents’ expectation

The National President of NAPTAN, Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, said the report of the panel, at the end of the day, should be fruitful.

“There is a proliferation of such fake schools because of the way the government has relegated education to the background. Those who buy certificates from fake schools and the brains behind such schools should be exposed. “Some parents look down on our higher institutions here and some would inadvertantly fall into the trap of fake universities.

Our universities here only lack some facilities and we want the government to do the needful by providing those things. If the local institutions are well taken care of, there will be less pressure to patronise those fake foreign universities,” he said.

Recall that the FG, through the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, set up a 12-man committee headed by Prof. Amin to look into the incidence of fake foreign and local universities serving as degree mills. The committee, which has the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, Dr. Chris Maiyaki as member, also has diplomats and security experts as members. It was given two months to complete its assignment and submit its report for appropriate action.

The investigative panel is to examine the veracity of the allegations of degree certificate racketeering within both foreign and local private universities in Nigeria; review the role of the ministry, its departments and agencies as well as officials (including identifying such officials) in facilitation of the recognition and procurement of the fake certificates in question and review existing policies and procedures related to accreditation and certification to identify weaknesses contributing to the issue.

Also, the committee is to examine the rules, procedures and processes for recognition and accreditation of foreign universities and programmes by the Federal Ministry of Education; establish if unapproved foreign institutions (Degree Mills) exist or not in Nigeria in whatever form with their identities and locations if any; make appropriate recommendations for review of any rules, procedures, processes to prevent reoccurrence and sanctions for identified erring officials; and make other recommendations that will strengthen the system of recognitions, accreditations and quality assurance of degrees in Nigeria.

The panel’s other terms of reference are to examine the extant rules, procedures and processes for granting of provisional licences to new universities by the National Universities Commission; examine the procedures and processes for periodic accreditation of programmes in the universities by the NUC and examine their effectiveness in quality assurance of the programmes and without prejudice to the periodic accreditation exercise of the NUC.

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