The US Consulate General Lagos, has organised a two-day higher education conference as part of efforts to deepen the relationship between Nigeria and the United States of America and its long-standing commitment towards strengthening an education system that enables Nigerian students to access quality education.
Tagged, “Inaugural Nigerian Higher Education Conference”, the event themed: “Opening New Frontiers: Mobilizing Stakeholders to Build Long-Term Partnership Between U.S. and Nigeria Institutions of Higher Education”, is being attended by Vice Chancellors of Federal, State, and private universities in Nigeria, representatives from U.S. universities, top officers from the National Universities Commission, NUC, Tertiary Education Trust Fund, Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities and NGOs in the Nigerian higher education space, both in person and online.
In an opening remarks, US Consulate General’s Public Affairs Officer, Stephen Ibelli explained that the objective of the conference is to explore opportunities to forge institutional partnerships between American and Nigerian universities on international joint and dual degrees and to promote virtual and in-person faculty and students’ exchanges.
With over 13,000 Nigerians moving to the US to study annually, Mr Ibelli noted that leveraging technology to connect the Nigerian and the American education system would forge a new chapter in Nigerian education, and enable more Nigerians to earn international degrees.
“This also is a great revenue stream for universities as well by offering these online programmes, but they are much cheaper than if you’re going to the United States and have to pay for all of those things. We see these working in parallel. There are always going to be folks that want to go to the United States and we welcome that. But there are also folks that maybe can’t afford the education or the families can afford the education, but all of the other expenses become a little bit more difficult. This is the gap that we’re looking at. This is the opportunity that we want to exploit” he said
In a message, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr Chris Maiyaki described the conference as timely as the NUC is currently carrying out some.reforms, including curriculum reengineering.
According to the NUC Executive Secretary “We’ve gotten to they trajectory in our history that we need to rebooth, rethink and reinvent higher education”
Some of the Vice-Chancellors participating in the conference, including that of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede and Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello of the Lagos State University shared their expectations from the conference with Radio Nigeria.
According to the respondents, these include, non-degree programmes for the benefit of the Universities local communities, increased students and faculty exchange programmes, awarding of multiple degrees simultaneously and collaboration on academic/teaching excellence
The Vice Chancellors said they are also looking forward to learning more about governance, funding and compensation models in American universities as well as ways of using technology for practical based researches and monetization of intellectual properties.