Who Should Pay For Higher Education?

By Ayodeji Abiola

BASIC EDUCATION, which is suppossedly free in Nigeria ends at the junior secondary school – the first 9 years of schooling. Privately owned schools on their parts are not free and it could be argued that the free education offered in the publicly owned schools is not of high qualitative value compared to the paid ones. At the basic education level, the primary benefit of learning is directly to the student. The lettered citizen will be able to conform reasonably well to the demands of the 21st century society without being a societal misfit. This is perhaps government’s motivation for paying for basic education, especially when cost could have been a hindrance.

 

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Beyond the basic level, the next years of schooling, three spent at the senior secondary level and then at least two years at the post-secondary level molds a learner into a professional in his chosen career. Presently, post-secondary education has become elusive to many citizens for various reasons. These reasons usually include cost and inadequate spaces at the schools. The cost factor is especially worrisome given that many institutions are publicly owned either by a state or the federal government and attended mostly by students from non-high income earning households. As such, these institutions do not usually charge high fees compared to the privately owned ones mostly attended by learners from more affluent households. The low earning capacity of the publicly owned institutions from low student’s tuition coupled with inadequate funding from the government exposes them to the plague of funding crises. The quality of learning from such poorly funded schools will no doubt impact negatively on the job such students take on. I cannot fully address the need for increased government funding for publicly owned institutions in this piece. However, I find a probable funding source for these institutions in the student’s potential employers.

I can boldly posit that poor quality of education is detrimental for productivity in the job market. Furthermore, such an unproductive job market is injurious to the economy. The extent to which one may argue on the danger of poor education to the overall society is a food for thought for readers of this article. The question at this moment is, “should employers then, go all the way to pay for quality education for students especially at the post-secondary level?” Professor Will Roberts and six other professors at McGill University in Quebec, Canada who recently wrote a newspaper opinion in solidarity with their striking students will answer this question in the affirmative. They argued that the university is no more than a training ground that employers are lucky enough to get employees to pay for1. The employees in this case are the students of the today who will no doubt become employees after they graduate. Technically, students are already on the job, they argued.

My answer to the question is also, “Yes, employers should start taking responsibilities in the funding of higher education in Nigeria”. If poorly educated graduates are continually produced, employers bear the brunt; well-educated graduates are the employers’ gain. Presently, top employers with deep pocket in Nigeria already re-train graduates before they are hired. For example, the Dangotes Industries established the Dangote Academy, which re-train graduates for 12 months before they are employed. According to Haruna Adinoyi, the head of the academy, “…most of our graduates are not employable”2. Nigeria’s largest oil corporation, Shell also run similar 12 months program called the Shell Intensive Training Program (SITP) for fresh graduates before they can be considered for employment. These are organizations, which are obviously established to maximize profit. Therefore, they would have preferred to transmit the money spent on these re-trainings into their annual profit balance, if it were not necessary and crucial for their successful operations.

To summarize and close, if quality education is important for quality job performance and by extension the economy; if majority of students in our higher educational institutions are largely unable to access quality education; if this lack of quality is partly but significantlyhinged on poor funding occasioned by low earning by the public institutions, perhaps employers, particularly the ones with deep pockets who are major beneficiaries of education should consider paying for higher education.

In my next article, I will discuss ways that employers (organizations, corporations, etc) should pay for higher education in Nigeria. Meanwhile, why don’t you leave your opinion/feedback below?

1 http://dailytimes.com.ng/article/dangote-splashes-n1-billion-universities
2 http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Letter+Tuition+hikes+solve+what+ails+system/6501275/story.html

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About author: Ayodeji Abiola

Ayodeji is an Engineer and an Educator. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the Federal University of Technology Akure and a Master’s degree from University College London. He is currently a researcher and a teacher at Western University, Canada. As a trained educator, Ayodeji is interested in understanding how best students learn, especially students taking science and technology subjects. He will be chronicling his findings on his online portal for Teachers. He is interested in their applications to the Nigerian higher educational institutions, given his understanding of the many issues confronting them. Ayodeji was a collegiate member of the Junior Chambers International, a worldwide federation of young leaders and entrepreneurs where he developed many of his leadership instincts. He is presently the team coordinator of I am Nigerian – a platform for Nigerians bent of showcasing the positive images of the country to a global audience while leading the way out of many of the present societal quagmires. Social Media links Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dejiabiola Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/abydayjee Blog – for Teachers: http://edu.ayo-abiola.com BB PIN: 228D8D6A

Paradigm shift in university ranking: rates ‘best’ countries, not universities

BY AGENCY REPORTER

A novel system of ranking 48 countries and territories said to be the ‘best’ at providing higher education was published on Friday by Universitas 21, the 15-year-old global network of 23 research-intensive universities.

The latest ranking system makes a welcome change from the efforts of a growing number of commercial organisations and other groups to rank individual universities according to their various abilities.

The top 10 countries claimed to be best at delivering higher education are the US, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, The Netherlands and the UK.

Thomson reuters image

The Universitas 21 results were launched at an event at Lund University in Sweden, where the ranking system was described as a “benchmark for governments, education institutions and individuals”.

“It aims to highlight the importance of creating a strong environment for higher education institutions to contribute to economic and cultural development, provide a high-quality experience for students and help institutions compete for overseas applicants,” according to a release from the network.

The rankings were produced by researchers at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, University of Melbourne.

They reviewed the most recent data from 48 countries and territories across 20 different measures grouped under four headings: resources (investment by government and private sector); output (research and its impact, as well as the production of an educated workforce to meet labour market needs); connectivity (international networks and collaboration, which protects a system against insularity); and environment (government policy and regulation, diversity and participation opportunities). Population size is also taken into account in the calculations.

The researchers found that government funding of higher education as a percentage of gross national product was highest in Finland, Norway and Denmark. But when private expenditure was included, funding was highest in the US, Korea, Canada and Chile.

Investment in research and development was highest in Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, and although the US dominated the total output of research journal articles, Sweden was found to be the biggest producer of articles per head of population.

According to the Melbourne team, the nations whose research has the greatest impact are Switzerland, The Netherlands, the US, the UK and Denmark. While the US and UK have the world’s top institutions in rankings, “the depth of world-class higher education institutions per head of population” is best in Switzerland, Sweden, Israel and Denmark.

Countries with the highest participation rates were listed as Korea, Finland, Greece, the US, Canada and Slovenia, while those with the largest proportion of workers with a higher level education were Russia, Canada, Israel, US, Ukraine, Taiwan and Australia.

Finland, Denmark, Singapore, Norway and Japan had the highest ratio of researchers in the economy.

The U-21 report says international students form the highest proportions of total student numbers in Australia, Singapore, Austria, the UK and Switzerland. International research collaboration is most prominent in Indonesia, Switzerland, Hong Kong SAR, Denmark, Belgium and Austria.

China, India, Japan and the US rank in the bottom 25 per cent of countries for international research collaboration. In all but eight countries, at least 50 per cent of students were female, the lowest being in India and Korea. In only five countries were there at least 50 per cent female staff, the lowest being in Japan and Iran.

The U-21 report says the results represent an initial attempt to rate national systems of higher education for a relatively large number of countries covering different stages of economic development. While this widened the value of the exercise, it made the data collection more complicated.

The researchers hope the rankings will encourage improvements in data, both for included countries and to enable them to extend the range of countries in future updates.

“While there are a number of international rankings of universities, commencing with the seminal Shanghai Jiao Tong index in 2003, less effort has been put into quantitative rankings of national systems of higher education,” the report states.

“A notable exception is the policy brief for the Lisbon Council, in which Edereer, Schuller and Willms in 2008 developed a university systems ranking for 17 selected OECD countries.

“The international rankings of universities emphasise the peaks of research excellence. They throw no light, however, on issues such as how well a nation’s higher education system educates all its students, possessing different interests, abilities and backgrounds.

“Even for universities, [Jamil] Salmi notes that ‘what happens in the institution alone is not sufficient to understand and appreciate the full dynamics of their relative success or failure’.”

The lead author, Professor Ross Williams at the University of Melbourne, said that in a globalised world, a strong higher education system was essential if a nation was to be economically competitive. Williams has previously produced rankings of Australian universities.

“While there are a number of well-regarded global rankings of individual institutions, these don’t shed any light on the broader picture of how well a nation’s system educates its students, the environment it provides for encouraging and supporting excellence,” he said.

“Students choose countries to study in as much as individual institutions and the Universitas 21 ranking offers clear data to support decision-making.”

Source of this Report is World University News

RESEARCH & DEVT: Nigeria makes electric car, power bike

By Ebele Orakpo

As the issue of environmental pollution rages and nations are seeking alternative energy sources devoid of carbon emission, Nigeria, as a major oil-exporter, will be hard hit if nothing is done. To this end, Professor James Omoleye of the Department of Chemical Engineering and former Director, Centre for Research, Covenant University, Ota Ogun State, began a series of researches with his team which culminated in the making of an electric automobile and a power bike. In this chat with Vanguard Learning, Omoleye says Nigeria is far ahead of some nations in this area. Excerpts:

Electric car made in Nigeria

For Professor James Omoleye: “Nigeria is an oil-exporting country and today, the green revolution which is trying to promote mobility without atmospheric pollution, is driving the whole world to look for alternative way of transportation and that has led to some research on electric automobile.

“Electric automobile is not a new thing. In fact, somebody said it was there before fuel combustion engine came but was not efficient at that time. The use of petrol engine took over because it was more efficient. Now, because of pollution and electronic advancement which has made electric automobiles very efficient, there is a kind of shift. People want to look into electric automobile as a means of mobility.”

Reducing pollution by 80 per cent:
If you can reduce the amount of pollution in the air coming through automobiles, then you would have reduced pollution by almost 80 per cent and life on earth will be safer. So there is now a tendency to move towards electric mobility, not only automobiles, even boats and trains. In advanced countries, the number of electric automobiles in use is on the increase.

Of course, many are now using what we call hybrid which is electric engine and fuel combustion engine together. This reduces the amount of fuel you burn. But the ultimate is electric automobile so that we can do away with pollution of the atmosphere. That is already gaining ground now in countries like the US and China. In China, electric bikes are common and a number of their taxis are electric. So very soon, electric mobility will take over from fuel combustion.

Electric car and power bike
“I started in 2005 to research into electric automobiles. Our electric automobile came on the road on July 1, 2010 and I have been using it but not continuously being the only one we have made, we don’t just use it any how. What we did was to buy a fuel combustion engine car, removed the engine and designed and assembled the electric engine inside it.

Electric Power bike made in Nigeria

We have also advanced in the sense that the first one we did, we brought in the parts but between then and now, we have worked on two of the three major components which are the speed regulator and the charging system because after running about 70km, you charge for six hours continuously.

Today, we have successcfully designed and assembled our own speed controller. We have tested it by mounting it on a four-wheel cycle and it is moving very well. We have almost perfected the charging system. Of course, since September 2007, we have been able to come up with a charging system but it was not as efficient as what we have now. We are replacing the one we did in 2010 with the one we have now which is a lot faster and more reliable.

The only component we have not started to do here is the electric motor itself. But that is not a big deal because there is no vehicle company that manufactures all the parts. You get some parts from one company and then you design some,” said the professor of chemical engineering.

Ahead of many nations
“We have gone very far and I think we are ahead of many other nations. We are ahead of Australia because they are not yet making those things and they are the ones in the forefront of electric automobile. An Indian man that came for business in Abuja saw my programme on television and came all the way to look for us here.

He said he came because they also have interest in electric automobile and that his company was given approval by the Indian Government to start introducing electric mobility into their taxi system. By the time we talked, I found out that we are ahead of them. They don’t make any parts and yet, they have got to the point of changing their taxi system to electric automobiles but we have gone to the point of producing the controller and the charger,” he said.

What Nigeria must do

Prof Omoleye - maker of electric car
Prof Omoleye - maker of electric car

“Even as an oil-exporting country, we cannot help encouraging something that will not consume fuel for two reasons: One, we are not making even the fuel combustion vehicles, we are importing them so if in the next five or six years the whole world is changing into electric automobile, you say ‘oh we are not going to go into that,’ you will be forced to import the electric automobiles they are making and good enough, petroleum is not only used for fuel combustion by automobiles, there are hundreds of products today that are made from petroleum just that Nigeria is only focusing on exporting crude.

Our clothes are from petroleum. When you talk of petrochemicals, the basic raw material is petroleum. So all we need to do is for us to try to focus on petrochemicals and start to divert the crude we cannot export to produce other things that can be exported.

Of course we will still be selling our crude but not as much as before. This is one reason why we should not say we are not going to encourage electric automobile production. Two, for now, we are only importing vehicles, when you join the race of electric automobiles manufacturing; you become one of the countries that will be earning revenue from exporting your own electric automobiles.

So while the fuel is not used for fuelling cars again, generators for the charging the automobiles will still be using fuel . You will now join them in also exporting vehicles and so you can increase your revenue base more than what it was before. We have gone very far and I think we are among the top five countries,” he noted.

First published in the Nigerian Vanguard May 10 2012.