‘Why people are trooping into Fed University Kashere’ Professor Mohammed Kabiru Farouk
Is the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Kashere, in Gombe State. In this interview, he speaks on the challenges facing the new federal universities and he canvases for adequate funding for the institutions to meet their needs, among other issues
What have you achieved in three years as Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Kashere?
We thank God and our proprietors as well as our staff for the accomplishments that we have registered in the last three years. We inherited a secondary school with few dilapidated structures on the ground but gradually, we have improved its status. We had to do a massive infrastructural development work to upgrade the status of the school. There were only about 10 buildings, but now we have about 20 buildings. It is because of these great accomplishments that we are able to commence academic activities in August 2012. Secondly, we are able to recruit high quality staff, both academic and non academic, comprising senior and junior staff. It was very challenging but we are able to employ large number of junior academic staff and, over the years, we have been struggling to employ more senior academic staff. I can say between 2013 and 2014 we have been able to attract more professors, associate professors, senior lecturers and lecturers one and we will continue like that. As of today, we have sponsored 12 of our academic staff for PhD programmes within Nigeria and abroad, courtesy of the funds we have received from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund for academic staff training and development programme. And 41 junior academic staffers were also sponsored for masters’ degrees programmes in Nigerian universities. In the next three to four years, most of these staff will come back with advanced degrees and will, therefore, begin to assume more senior positions in the faculties and departments. This staff development and training will continue annually. We have so far admitted about 1,400 students and we held our third matriculation ceremony on Thursday, 10 April 2014. We are pleased with the academic performance of our students as well as their social and character development. We also pay attention to the welfare of our staff and students. For example, all our students in the first two years were living in campus but because of the increase in students’ population this year we could not accommodate them all. Currently, we have three students’ hostels under construction. We are anticipating that by the end of this year, we will have at least about 600 bed spaces for our students. Other ongoing projects funded by the Federal Government through the TETFUND include, the two students’ hostels, the administrative blocks, ICT centre, library building and two faculty buildings. Still on the ICT, we have established an e-registration portal. Our students can now register online, wherever they are in the world, and at any time. Lecturers and other staff can also access their records or the students’ records. This has streamlined our registration exercise. We have also invested heavily in procuring high quality equipment for our laboratories in biology, chemistry and physics departments and also in the development of our library. We have procured information resources, including books, journals and other materials for the library. We have also established e-library….for example, in the department of economics and development studies, we established an econometric laboratory, while in geography we established metrological centre. We have also made stride in our international linkages; we have signed MoU with three international universitiesFlorida International University in the United States, University of Canterbury in New Zealand as well as Lincoln University also in New Zealand. We will continue to establishing contacts with other institutions around the world, so that we can maintain, implement and enhance our international exchange programmes. We have approved to send four of our staff abroad; three to University of Canterbury, New Zealand and one to Lincoln University for their PhD programmes and, eventually, we will do staff exchanges, collaborative research and other partnership as contained in the MoU.
Your university is witnessing influx of both academics and non academic staff from other institutions. What is responsible for that?
I think people are being attracted to Federal University, Kashere certainly because of the mission of the university and incentive packages we put in place. The management also succeeded in creating a conducive environment where both staff and students are being supported to pursue their scholarly activities. Our policy here is that every single staff of the university will attend, at least, one conference, seminar or workshop in a year and for academic staff and senior nonacademic staff we sponsor them for international conferences….I think that is why people are trooping into the Federal University Kashere.
Inadequate infrastructure, insecurity and unstable academic calendar are some of the major problems facing education. How do you cope with these problems?
Certainly, as a new university we need additional infrastructure. One of our challenges here in Kashere is the inadequacy or shortage of classrooms but the management is planning for the construction of lecture theatre and additional classrooms to accommodate our growing students’ population. Through our TETFUND normal intervention we have planned to build 500-seat capacity lecture theatre. We have also proposed, through our needs assessment allocation, to build 250-seat capacity lecture theatre and additional classrooms. We started in 2011 with two faculties; science and humanities, management and social sciences and added faculties of education and agriculture in 2013. We are currently offering about 33 degree programmes in 19 departments in the four faculties.
How do you achieve that despite the challenges of funding?
We are grateful to the Federal Government for the funds we have received in 2011 through the TETFUND. We initially received N1.5bn as take-off grant and then another N2billion for execution of projects and another N1.2billion for the construction of students’ hostels. But as we are growing, we need additional buildings and other facilities. Presently, we don’t have staff quarters and we don’t have the money to construct it. Our capital allocation from the federal budget is also grossly inadequate. Apart from receiving very small allocation, we don’t receive 100% of those allocations every year, so that is our major challenge at present. Our overhead funding is also grossly inadequate, especially with growing students’ population. The university has established a consultancy unit through which we will generate additional funds that can be used to meet some of our operational needs.
What is your next plan for the university?
We want to continue to implement the first phase of our academic development plan. So, right now, we are in phase one and it is a 25-year programme to be implemented in five phases, we are hoping to complete it by 2016. In phase two, we are going to add faculty of law and separate the management sciences from faculty of humanities. We will also establish a postgraduate school. This year, we will establish school of general and preliminary studies and centre for entrepreneurship studies. We are grateful to the Federal Government, Gombe State Government and all the local governments in the state as well as our local community and traditional rulers for their supports. We are soliciting for financial support from wealthy individuals, companies, civic organisations and other stakeholders. We also want government to improve its funding so that we can improve in our service delivery.