Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, one of the nine
established in 2011, Prof. Isaac Asuzu,shares his experience with
ROTIMI LAWRENCE OYEKANMI
How would you describe the journey of the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, since inception in 2011?
The journey has been slow but steady. It has been challenging in terms of providing the basic infrastructure needed, recruiting the right calibre of staff, putting in place the required rules and regulations guiding our operations, both as students and staff; and building good relationship with our host communities.
FUOYE is the only university among the first nine created by the Federal Government that has full-fledged Engineering Faculty. All the academic programmes of the engineering faculty have received pre-accreditation status by the Council for Regulation of Engineering (COREN). FUOYE also ranked 17 in Nigeria during the last webometric ranking of universities. So far, we have done well but need to do more.
How easy or difficult has it been for you to get qualified academic staff?
The issue of getting qualified teaching staff has not been easy, especially Lecturers with PhD. Many departments are still bottom heavy in terms of teaching staff. In other words, many departments have more of Assistant Lecturers than Lecturer II and above. Assistant lecturers are those who have at least, a 2nd Class Upper in their first degree and a good Master’s degree that will enable them proceed to PhD.
Due to the increase in number of universities in the country, it has become difficult to find Lecturers with PhDs. This problem is most acute in the Faculty of Engineering. Qualified Engineers prefer to work in oil companies and other private companies where they earn good salaries. In FUOYE, I have been recruiting Lecturers through adverts. We have also recruited some staff from overseas. We have enough staff on the ground to teach our students, while we have continued to search for very senior academics in order to have the proper mix of Lecturers.
What is your student population at the moment? How many students did you admit each session since 2011?
Our student population is about 2,300 at the moment, that is, if we get all the 800 students allocated to us this year. All along, we have been admitting 500 students each session from 2011. We intend to admit 800 students in the 2014/2015 academic session.
How much of the needed infrastructure have you been able to put in place so far?
The Federal Government has been quite supportive in providing infrastructural facilities since the onset of FUOYE. I must also acknowledge the contributions of some private companies and individuals in this regard.
The Federal government provided an initial N1.5 billion, which was used to construct the first set of buildings at the Oye campus and renovate existing buildings in the Ikole campus. The sum of N2 billion was later provided by the Federal Government for the phase two projects, comprising of two faculty buildings: one ICT building, one Library building and one administrative building. These buildings are at various stages of completion.
The faculty and ICT buildings will be put to use in January 2015. The others, including the administrative and library buildings, will be completed before June 2015. Another N1.2 billion was provided by the Federal Government through TETFUND (Tertiary Education Trust Fund), for the construction of two students’ hostels at the Ikole campus. None of the hostels has gone beyond 35 per cent completion.
We have built an Entrepreneurial Centre and an access road to our Phase two projects site with our capital projects’ fund. A new Theater Arts building will be started in January 2015. It will cost about N375 million (including furnishing), provided by TETFUND. We received N110 million from the Federal Government for the construction of a Lecture Theatre.
You will agree that we are making good progress, even though we still need to provide more infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of both staff and students.
Is there any provision for accommodating some or all of your students?
FUOYE has hostels for her students at Oye and Ikole campuses but the hostel space available is not sufficient for our students. However, the problem will be solved significantly when the two hostels mentioned earlier are completed in 2015.
Which of your academic programmes attracts applicants the most and why?
The Department of Economics seems to attract more students than the other departments. I think that economics is relevant to many sectors of our economy and provides more job opportunities for students with a BSc degree in Economics. This could be the reason why it is the most attractive academic programme in FUOYE.
Do you get any feedback from students about the standard of teaching? If yes, could you share some of the information?
Yes, our students complete staff assessment forms at the end of every semester. It enables us to assess the performance of academic staff in the classroom. The reports that emanate from the assessment done by our students enables the Head of Department advise any Lecturer, who has an adverse report on how to improve his or her method of delivering lectures.
Your university is expected to turn out its first set of graduates next (this) year. Are you on course? What should Nigerians look forward to?
We will be graduating our first set of students next (2015) year. To achieve this, we must successfully go through the accreditation process. We are painstakingly putting things together to ensure a successful accreditation exercise come 2015. This includes appropriate staffing, adequate infrastructure, up to date curricula in line with the NUC (National Universities Commission) benchmark and providing conducive environment for teaching and learning.
Nigerians should look forward to receiving our first graduates from FUOYE into the labour market next year. We will graduate well-trained graduates – not only in learning but in character. We will graduate entrepreneurial graduates, who will not need further training in order to fit into industries and other places of work. We will graduate skilled graduates, who will be able to start their own business if they prefer to do so.
Finally sir, what legacy would you like to leave behind at the completion of your term in office?
I am looking forward to a university that will compete globally with any university in the world. I would like to leave behind a university with adequate and well-designed infrastructure and a workforce that is dedicated and disciplined.