I’ll convert varsities’ budgetary funding to annual grants – Ezekwesili

The presidential candidate for the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr.  Obiageli Ezekwesili, has proffered solution to the frequent shut down of  tertiary institutions over poor financing of education in the country.

One of the ways she suggested was to convert the budgetary allocations  to universities to grants.

While expressing displeasure with the ongoing strike by members of the  Academic Staff Universities Union (ASUU), the ACPN presidential  candidate assured Nigerians in a press statement, on Tuesday, that there  would be adequate funding for the educational sector if she emerged.

Ezekwesili explained that there was a need to reposition Nigeria’s universities to make them rank among their contemporaries in the world.

She said, “One of the signature programmes of our administration would be TwentyToeRanking. This initiative will focus on the transformation of  20 Nigerian universities and to raise them up to the league of  world-class institutions within a seven-year period.

“The other signature programme is Grant Autonomy to Federal  Universities, which is a core policy change that can facilitate  #TwentyTo-eRanking. It implies that our government will grant full
autonomy to public universities.

“Our administration will end the current centralised control of  universities by the Federal Government (or state governments over their  own funded universities), which over the decades stifled their growth
and performance.

“Most top-ranking government-owned universities around the world are  known to thrive as a result of de-balancing of the need for  accountability for public resources on the one hand, and preservation of
their academic freedom on the other.”

She also said, “Granting autonomy to federal universities will enable  institutional differentiations through a competitive race to the top of  their performance in how they attract the best students and top faculty.

“The Federal Government’s current budgetary funding for such  universities will be converted to annual grants that are indexed to  accountability, performance, results. The overriding objective will be
for our public universities to deliver qualitative tertiary education at  cost-effective tuition for their students.

“University autonomy incentivises individual universities to pursue  innovative methods of raising funds beyond tuitions and government  budgets.”

The presidential candidate identified the need to grant and implement full universities’ autonomy, lamenting that undue interference by  government was affecting the performance of universities.

“University autonomy will, especially, deepen research capabilities and  building of partnerships within the tertiary education system. This  policy will also change university leadership and governance, thereby  insulating the institutions from political appointment of vice  chancellors that has, over the decades, compromised academic quality and  performance,” she added.

As a means to ensure that no one is denied tertiary education because of  finance, she said, “Our administration will ensure that no individual  with the requisite qualification and desire to pursue a university  education is deprived of such opportunity solely on account of their  inability to pay tuition.

“Our government shall design and execute a solid financing model that  allows for students that meet the requirements for tertiary learning to  fund their education, relying on a mix of financial aids, scholarships  and student loans.”