‘Baze University enrolls fewer students per lecturer’
Pro-Chancellor of Baze University, Abuja, Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, explains in this interview the measures taken by the institution to attend to students’ welfare. How will you explain the academic standing of this university?
I will say it is the best in Nigeria. We admit qualified people irrespective of state of origin and catchment area. I have no power nor does any member of the Board of Trustee or management to influence the admission of anybody if they are not qualified. The academic contents are up-todate and meet international standards. We adhere strictly to the National Universities Commission (NUC) yardsticks and remain at the same speed with the best international content.
The university has also installed modern teaching and learning facilities in lecture halls, including projectors, desktops and other audiovisual instructional materials directly linked to the internet. There are Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the school environment with which we monitor movements as well as biometric attendance devices for students.
The university advertises for lecturers, screen them and employ the best. One other issue is that our students remain anonymous during in-class tests and other examinations. No names were written on the answer scripts; finger printing is being used and the results were drawn after conference marking. The university ensures that lecturers do not mark scripts beyond their limits unlike public universities where a lecturer marks over a thousand exams scripts. Lecturers are not allowed to sell pamphlets and handbooks to students and the interaction between lecturers, administrators and students is strictly monitored and up till now there has not been any incidence of harassment. We have external examiners from the UK who come here to moderate the papers and we also send scripts of small courses to UK for moderation. These lecturers are from the top 100 universities in the world. We monitored the first graduates we had that obtained first class degrees in their schools abroad where they did their postgraduate studies. They were all in the first class cadre likewise those in the 2.1 and 2.2 classes. We have signed an MoU with the University of Westminster in UK and our students can go there and study for a semester or two and transfer their credits here. So, I am satisfied with the graduates the university is producing.
How have you been able to meet the requirements of the NUC?
Not just have we met the guiding principles but we have exceeded what we are required to do. We have complied with regulations on student-faculty ratio; in fact we have fewer students for every one lecturer. There are enough reader seating spaces and brand new books in the libraries in addition to electronic journals provided.
In terms of students’ wellbeing, the university offers a special social welfare system for students. We ensure steady electricity supply and depend mainly on the national grid because it will be expensive to independently generate power. There was no public water supply system here and the university had to device efficient means of providing safe water through piping. Enough boreholes were provided by the university to ensure uninterrupted supply. There were 22 boreholes at different locations in the university; some of them have solar powered pumps. We also use generators to pump water. It is interesting to know that the university provides enhanced security service with no major incidence since inception. We have double concrete/wire perimeter fencing system for obvious protective measure and a K9 squad in-between. The university’s team of 150 security officers is headed by a retired colonel who has a retired captain as second in command. There is a security consultant that handles their training, uniform and equipment. The CCTV’s record video images for 60 days and they can be viewed on the internet.
The university provided five restaurants on the campus that serves different meals and there were adequate sport facilities including a soccer stadium, basketball, squash, badminton and volleyball courts as well as other popular team sports such as hockey and snooker. The welfare of our students is of paramount importance to us and we have not recorded any case on cultism or harassment. We don’t allow alcohol on campus and we have adopted an efficient way of resolving conflicts among the students.
One way of keeping peace on campus is by screening students on transfer and during admissions which we always do. The university also randomly screens students for drugs and mete out appropriate punishments to those found guilty of any offences.
The university conducted her second graduation ceremony recently, is there any major improvement?
We graduated 64 students last year out of which nine had first class degrees but in this year a total of 203 students graduated from the university and 11 of them obtained first class degrees. In terms of the number of students, we did better this year and the families of the graduating students were actually happy with the performance of their children.
The NUC had approved four faculties for the university namely; Applied Sciences and Computing, Law, Engineering and Social and Management Sciences. Work on the establishment of two more faculties, Environmental Sciences and Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences was 90 per cent complete. Equipment for installation in the new buildings will be arriving Nigeria from China in a little while. We have begun appointment of coordinators for the faculties. The university has applied for post graduate studies and awaits the response of the NUC.
There were allegations that private universities do not pay attention to the intellectual capabilities of students…
That is absolutely untrue; in fact we have gone to the extent of offering scholarships for exceptionally bright students who have not got the means to go to universities. We also identify bright students and give them tuition free session and support them to attend international conferences as well as recommend them for further recognition.
Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed