Pro Chancellor, Crawford University, Igbesa, Mr Oye Ibidapo-Obe, on Wednesday said that Nigerians were spending a whooping N1 trillion annually to pursue university education abroad.
Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), made the revelation in his address at 10th Convocation of the faith-based Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun State.
His revelation came at a time university teachers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are on strike over issues of welfare and the state of Nigerian universities.
Crawford is a private Christian university established in 2005 by Apostolic Faith Mission.
Ibidapo-Obe, a professor, said it was pertinent for the country to look into how education policy makers would encourage private universities to bring out their best.
“The advent of private universities in our nation some 20 years ago opened to us great possibility of providing greater and even more qualitative access to higher education.
“With the recent, very encouraging development from these new entrants, we can see that we are entering into a new era of quite exciting competition between private higher education providers and public institutions.
“With this scenario, the most discerning among education policy-makers should reason that private varsities need to be encouraged to bring out their best in this regards.
“In addition, this move by government will make these private universities more efficient and attractive to Nigerians that are annually sending their wards to foreign universities at the cost of N1 trillion every year,” he said.
Ibidapo-Obe suggested that government could establish an Education Bank to provide a single digit interest for private and public universities to draw funds.
“Many of us have suggested the establishment of an Education Bank that will help to provide credit at a single digit interest and support through the Federal Government’s special grants to encourage excellence.
“While setting up the infrastructure for this may take a little time, government can utilise Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).
“Many have argued that using some competitive criteria that will test their degree of compliance to certain standards, winners can be singled out and given supervised grants to carry out particular projects.
“The news of such development will help to bring the particular institution to public view and the entire private providers to the limelight.
“The implementation of this kind of policy will help to bring greater competition and efficiency across the two camps of public and private-funded universities,” he said.
Contributing, Vice-Chancellor of the university, Mr Rotimi Ajayi, said the 10th convocation was a harvest time to recount past successes by the university.
“Today’s convocation is unique. It is a special harvest time that calls for celebration as harvest in any culture and a time of joy at the maturation of seeds.
“The convocation marks a decade of continuous success in the fulfillment of the mandate of the university and also historic as our School of Part-Time Studies is presenting its pioneer students.
“Like their name Unicorns, these critical change-makers have over the course of their tutelage in the university been taken through their necessary paces and have been found to be thoroughly grounded.
“In line with the dreams of the founding fathers, they have been duly exposed to the nurture and admonitions of the word of God,” he said.
The university at its 10th Convocation graduated 304 graduands from its Colleges of Business and Social Services as well as Natural and Applied Sciences.
Nine percent of the graduands made first class, 39 per cent made second class upper division, 42 per cent came out with second class lower division and 28 per cent in the other categories.
The university also introduced Mr Ibidapo-Obe, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, as its new pro-chancellor.
The convocation recognised the attendance of the past two vice-chancellors who have nurtured Crawford University from its cradle to its present height by presenting them plaques.
The former Vice-Chancellors are: Moses Ige, founding Vice-Chancellor and Samson Ayanlaja, both professors.