The Vice-Chancellor of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, Prof. Olukayode Amund, has asked the federal government to ensure a level-playing ground for public and private universities for effective competition that would engender quality education.
Amund, who said this on Friday while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the university campus, explained that government’s assistance to private universities would be beneficial to Nigerian students in the private universities, and for the growth of the education sector.
He stated that private universities in Nigeria are competing with public universities where fees are low.
“The main problem of private universities is the low-student population. A level-playing ground should be created by government so that private universities can compete with public ones.
“Government should assist private universities, especially those who had invested tremendously in infrastructure.
“Students at Elizade University are Nigerians. And the teachers and other staff working in the university are also Nigerians. So, whatever the public universities are enjoying, private universities should also enjoy, for example, TETFUND.
“Private universities should all enjoy from such fund for infrastructural development to support Nigerian students. There is need to change the law that set up the fund so that all universities in Nigeria can be included,” he stated.
Amund added that private universities had no subvention nor subsidy to sustain their expenses.
“Here, our students have to pay high school fees because we are not getting subvention from anywhere and nobody has invested in the infrastructure to run our programmes.
“And nobody provides funds to subsidise our operations regarding the maintenance and payment of emoluments. We run all these from the fees we charge,” he stated.
He explained that private universities in the country could not generate enough to meet their needs, hence so many of them are owing staff salaries.
“What we generate is enough, so we don’t owe salaries here. Our main source of income is from the fees we charge. We are not a charity organisation that is running free services like government universities.
“In public universities, government pays for their own operations. There is no free service anywhere. It’s the parents that pay for our own.
“That is why we are suggesting that parents should also pay their children’s school fees in public universities while government provides funds for parents,” he suggested.
According to him, Nigeria should emulate the British model whereby parents pay for their children’s school fees, while they collect their cheques from their local governments.
“But foreign students pay for their school fees because government in the UK cannot be subsidising school fees of people overseas.
“So, that is the way their government is financing education over there. Government does not just give bulk money to the universities, they will collect fees and manage the fees. What goes to university can be managed.
“You know the number of students in university and you know how much is going to university so that you can track every fund that is going there.
“Unlike in our country here, whereby nobody can track money going into universities and that is giving room for mismanagement,” he stated.
The vice chancellor also said that the fees would be better managed, if paid by students, than the government just giving out money to universities.
He frowned at the notion that private universities in the country are after money, saying that founders of those universities spent a lot of money on infrastructure.
“The founder of this university as at today has not taken a bottle of coke from the university, yet he is even funding. There is a N3 billion hostel project that is ongoing.
“We don’t generate N3 billion from fees we charge but the founder is doing it all alone. Last year, we commissioned two buildings: one cost N1.2 billion and the other N1 billion.
“We don’t generate all that amount from the fees we charge here. All we charge here is only used to pay salaries.
“So, we have enough to pay salaries and maintain buildings if there is any need to repair but infrastructure, we don’t have that funds. It is the founder that is doing that. Look at this building we are in now, how many universities can build this?
“So, it is not the fees that are spent in private universities. In fact it is not even enough to meet the needs.
“It is a wrong notion to believe that private universities are after money because we don’t even generate enough to meet targets,” he said.
Amund, who said that the university’s founding philosophy is to be a world class institution, added that the institution harped on researches, and is striving to be impactful on its community, the nation and to influence the world.
“So, the reason the founder has set it (the university) up is to bridge an existing gap in the technological training. In fact, the founder is an entrepreneur, who has made a big mark in the automobile industry as regards marketing.
“So, he is a consumer of engineering, he is a consumer of technology. And that is why he has set out to promote technology in the beginning.
“Technological training has been given a place of pride in the university by promoting basic applied sciences and engineering because these are the pillars for technological training.
“Elizade University is set out to produce ethically sound and entrepreneurial graduates, who will be able to stand alone and be creative wherever they find themselves.”