Many strive to acquire a university degree in the past because universities should have and maintain high reputation by providing top quality education and preparing future-ready students.
However, many scholars have argued that university education nowadays is outdated and does not meet prevailing socioeconomic demands.
A lecturer in Nasarawa State University said many factors are responsible for the collapse of university education in Nigeria among them, poor foundation, lack of reading culture, economic crunch, lack of conducive learning environment, and corruption among others.
He explained that university education is also becoming outdated and irrelevant due to lack of reading culture among students who instead waste their prime time misusing the social media.
He said poor economy has also reduced the good effects of university knowledge because many parents cannot pay fees on time. “Today is the third week of resumption but very few of the students attend lectures and many lecturers, including me have already prepared the semester exams.
“Till date, not single student has attended lectures because they were unable to pay their fees,” he said.
He added that lack of conducive learning environment and inadequate office accommodation for lecturers have negative effects on the system.
“Government and the managements should take proactive measures to develop the infrastructure of the institutions,” he said.
The don also stated that corruption and sex for marks are becoming rampant in universities thereby undermining the quality of knowledge. “The menace of sex for marks is a two way thing: one is that some young lecturers intimidate female students while the other are some bad female students who seduce lecturers to get marks.”
Another lecturer at the Federal University Lafia, said stakeholders must take necessary steps to change the method and skills in training university students.
A senior lecturer with the Department of Geology at the Federal University, Birnin Kebbi, Dr Ali Bakari, said though university education is vital for the socio-economic development of a country, the problem in Nigeria is that the current university curricula is not tailored to teach and acquire 21st century skills. “Our university system is still operating in the 20th century,” he averred.
The system lacks innovation and creativity in research; it is mostly a copy and paste system that lacks novelty. Therefore, most Nigerian graduates cannot compete favourably with their contemporaries elsewhere.
“The system produces lazy and ill-equipped graduates that only read to get paper qualifications. Hence, they end up becoming a liability to the country at large.”
The Head of Department of Mass Communication at Kwara State University, Malete, Dr Isiaka Aliagan, said university curriculum should be reviewed in all courses.
He noted that with the changes in the society, there are courses being offered in most universities that are irrelevant because most industries and employers of labour do not require the services of those who studied them.
“The problem can be solved by constantly reviewing our curriculum so that the student can get involved physically in solving societal problems. We should look at the societal needs and reflect them in the curriculum,” Aliagan said.
However, a senior lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, Dr. Lateef Adefalu, disagreed that university education is irrelevant saying our graduates have been able to compete favourably or even better than some of their counterparts from every part of the world while furthering their education abroad.
“They are also contributing positively to the development of foreign countries wherever they get employed; this despite the fact that the learning environment back home is tough.”
He, however added that though there may be some truth in aspects of the claim, that could be attributable to lack of linkage between the university and industry.
According to Adefalu, “Trainings in our universities should be done towards industry needs. As it is now, the two institutions stand alone. Researches by students and the universities always fail to address industry challenges. Our researches should be problem and demand driven but instead, they are supply driven.
“Our curriculum is also long overdue for a review, we must make it reflect the needs of the people.”
Professor Patrick H. Daru of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Jos Teaching Hospital, Jos said he “didn’t totally agree that university education is irrelevant and anachronistic.”
University education, according to him, “is an enabler for the educated to be malleable so that the recipient of education will adapt to whatever situation he finds himself.”
Professor Daru said university education is not old fashioned because most universities update their curricular periodically to meet current challenges in the socio-economic aspects of life.
In his reaction, a lecturer in the Department of History University of Jos, Santos Ayuba Larab, said the problem of the university and why it is not meeting the socio-economic and industry needs is due to the certification drive of the system where every attention is to obtain certificate rather than acquiring knowledge that can help the society.
Larab said many automobile engineering graduates or professors take their cars to uneducated ‘roadside mechanics’ to repair.