TOPE OLUSANYA in this report examines NOUN as one of the few in Africa blazing the trail of academic excellence.
The National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was established in the year 1983 as a federal open and distance learning institution, the first of its kind in West Africa sub-region.
Since its resuscitation in the year 2002, it has remained Nigeria largest university in terms of student’s population, operating multi- study-centres across the six geo-political zones and the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
Despite providing functional, flexible, accessible and cost effective education for all who seek knowledge. Also leveraging on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to deliver an education tailored towards the globalised economy, many assumed graduates from NOUN can never come near their colleagues who attended the conventional university system in terms of standard.
However, recent developments has continued to make mockery of this erroneous assumption. The rejected stone is fast becoming the chief cornerstone, as the institution is now blazing the trail among the committee of universities in Nigeria.
For instance, the first set of the university’s Law graduates that were admitted to the Nigerian Law School by the Council for Legal Education, are fast proofing to the world with their performances that NOUN has the capacity to run quality Law programme.
Exploit through ACETEL
So that the institution will not continue to win in the dark while erroneous assumptions become rife, the Council of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) during its 69th regular meeting in June decided to take stock of recent developments at the institutions.
NOUN ACETEL, a special academic centre being jointly sponsored by the University, Association of African University (AAU), National Universities Commission (NUC) amd the World Bank, has continued to blaze the trail in its development of ICT tools to enhance learning, while the Postgraduate programme at M.Sc and Ph.D levels in Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence and Management Information System have all received full accreditation status from the NUC.
This is a centre that focuses on development of human capacity and research in digital solution that would lead to the utilisation of technology for education.
New study centres and students’ enrolment
Under the able leadership of the current vice chancellor, Prof Oluyemi A. Peters, students’ enrolment has increased to over 600,000 with over 150, 000 of them being active.
Meanwhile, the council has resolved to continue putting in its best to ensure this number increase to 1,000,000 in a couple of years.
With the six flagship programmes of the school which includes; B.Sc Computer Science; B.Sc Entrepreneurship; B.Sc Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution; B.S Criminology and Security Studies; B.Sc Political Science and B.NSc. Nursing, an exponential increase in the school’s students’ enrolment becomes imminent.
In readiness for this exponential increase in students’ enrolment and in pursuit of the university’s mandate to take education to the doorstep of Nigerians, the school has continued to expand with the establishment of more community study centres in the six geo-political zones of the country.
The latest of this is over 13 centres established in Kano state and other places recently verified by NUC.
Meanwhile, two more study centres would be established in Lagos, specifically in Ikorodu and Badagry as the university continues to expand to other communities.
E-ticketing programme and instructional video
In a bid to live up to its leading role in ICT compliant university, the management has introduced the E-ticketing as a Learning Support Services, an electronic solution that facilitates quick response to students and general public complaints and enquiries.
With this, the university now responds to over 100 enquiries/queries daily.
For this and other operations of the university to be hitch-free, the council has approved the provision of solar panel at the study centres to supplement the conventional source of power.
In addition to this, the university in a bid to transform the delivery method by the aggressive use of digital technologies, has embarked on the integration of instructional videos to all courses to strengthen the multi modal delivery system to allow students learn at their pace and from anywhere.
Staff welfare and promotion
Upon realisation that no matter the standard of facilities provided for the university, they would be managed by the staff, both teaching and non-teaching, the university have remained committed to staff welfare as priority is placed on the promotion of deserving staff at when due without compromising quality.
Consequently, the council just approved the promotion of some senior lecturers to professorial cadre, while some are promoted to associate professor.
The management has also provided a laptop for all academic staff as a working tool for the university activities, which are largely technology-driven.
Meanwhile, some new principal officers have been appointed following advertisement in the dailies, to ensure due process.
The new appointees are Mr Oladipo Adetayo Ajayi as the new registrar; Mr Nasir Gusau Marafa, bursar and Dr Angela Ebele Okpala as the new university librarian.
Staff capacity building continues unabated
Interestingly, NOUN in showcasing its capacity to deliver quality University education in Nigeria, it is now partnering with NUC in implementing a training institute for staff in the Nigerian University System, where a total of 4000 staff have so far been trained.