ABU won’t de­lay the­sis com­ple­tion by post­grad­u­ate stu­dents – Dean

Pro­fes­sor Kabir Bala, the Dean Post-Grad­u­ate School, Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU) Zaria says in this in­ter­view in Abuja that the in­sti­tu­tion would avoid fac­tors that lead to un­timely com­ple­tion of the­sis by post-grad­u­ate stu­dents.

Daily Trust - - ED­U­CA­TION - By Mis­bahu Bashir

In the past, post­grad­u­ate pro­grammes, Ph.D in par­tic­u­lar, used to take stu­dents ten years or there­about to com­plete, what ef­fort have you made to ad­dress this prob­lem?

We are ad­dress­ing it; it’s a con­tin­u­ous is­sue, which pre­sup­poses that there is al­ways room for im­prove­ment. The for­mer dean tried a lot in ad­dress­ing this prob­lem and we are con­tin­u­ing from where he stopped. A num­ber of prob­lems may cause the de­lay, which ABU is un­for­tu­nately known for and we are try­ing to ac­tu­ally change that no­tion about ABU as much as we can. There are a num­ber of prob­lems that lead to de­lays; let me be­gin from the stu­dents. Some­times when a stu­dent un­der­takes course work, im­me­di­ately he com­pletes it suc­cess­fully, he leaves and never comes back. Two, there used to be what is called mis­match be­tween per­haps su­per­vi­sors and stu­dents, and we have tried to ad­dress that in this way; one, the su­per­vi­sor must be in the same spe­cial­ized area with the stu­dent’s work, and two, there must be syn­ergy be­tween the su­per­vi­sor and the su­per­visee, that is what hap­pens ev­ery­where in the world.

So, these two steps have helped con­sid­er­ably. If you check our sta­tis­tics, we are gen­er­at­ing some in­put/out­put anal­y­sis. For the past few years, you would see that there were in­deed some de­part­ments where man power re­sources were not suf­fi­cient to ad­dress the needs of reg­is­tered post­grad­u­ate stu­dents, that is a chal­lenge, by the grace of God it has been ad­dressed be­cause in re­cent time we have had up­ward move­ment in terms of sta­tus of staff in ABU, but we still have pock­ets of those prob­lems in one or two de­part­ments. There is also the in­crease in hu­man re­source ca­pac­ity, which has also helped con­sid­er­ably in the im­prove­ment of grad­u­a­tion rate of post­grad­u­ate stu­dents.

There was a law by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment or is it the NUC that the first gen­er­a­tion uni­ver­si­ties should pay more at­ten­tion to post­grad­u­ate pro­grammes than un­der­grad­u­ate pro­grammes. Has ABU com­plied with this direc­tive?

It is not a law per se; it is not even a re­quire­ment, it is an ad­vice be­cause there is no pa­per. It is not manda­tory, but it is the view of the gov­ern­ment that first gen­er­a­tion uni­ver­si­ties would have at­tained a cer­tain ca­pac­ity and for the man­power re­quire­ment of the coun­try, we need high ca­pac­ity, post­grad­u­ates. Since there are a num­ber of uni­ver­si­ties now apart from the first gen­er­a­tion uni­ver­si­ties, states, pri­vates, and even younger fed­eral uni­ver­si­ties, the gov­ern­ment thinks that the first gen­er­a­tion hav­ing at­tained high ca­pac­ity in hu­man devel­op­ment, should mi­grate from train­ing un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents to post­grad­u­ate stu­dents. And ABU as you men­tioned rightly is one of the first gen­er­a­tion uni­ver­si­ties that had at­tained this ca­pac­ity. So, we are try­ing to also com­ply as much as pos­si­ble be­cause NUC is our reg­u­la­tor. How­ever, there are chal­lenges; one, ABU still has a role to play es­pe­cially in its catch­ment area - north­ern Nige­ria. For in­stance, ABU is the only univer­sity that has the full de­ploy­ment of all the fac­ul­ties as de­fined by NUC, and if we say there will be no un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme in cer­tain fields, then it means that the stu­dents in this catch­ment will have nowhere to go to be­cause it is only in ABU that you find that kind of pro­gramme.

Look­ing at it from an­other per­spec­tive, there are some of these pro­grammes that may be avail­able, say agri­cul­ture, which is very im­por­tant to this catch­ment area. You dis­cover that apart from ABU, there are few uni­ver­si­ties of­fer­ing agri­cul­ture, even though it is a spe­cial­iza­tion that many peo­ple should be go­ing into, based on the ge­o­graph­i­cal sit­u­a­tion of the North. I think if we want to be fair we can look at that specif­i­cally and it may take a lit­tle while be­fore ABU will com­ply holis­ti­cally. The other thing is that we can’t pre­tend to for­get about the level of poverty in north­ern Nige­ria. To get as many post­grad­u­ate stu­dents to en­roll in a way that the sys­tem would be sus­tained now will not be easy; a stu­dent will fin­ish his pro­gramme, and he has no money to col­lect the cer­tifi­cate. So, we have to have a bal­ance be­tween un­der­grad­u­ate stu­dents and post­grad­u­ate stu­dents. That is the way we want to go.

You were ap­pointed dean about a year ago, what are your plans?

As the say­ing goes, if you don’t plan to suc­ceed then you plan to fail. So, one of the most im­por­tant things that I want to do and want to be re­mem­bered for as a legacy in this school is to im­prove the grad­u­a­tion rate, the in­put/out­put rate of the univer­sity. If a stu­dent reg­is­ters for a two -year course, we will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to see that he grad­u­ates in two years. I think that is the num­ber one ob­jec­tive of any post grad­u­ate school.

Sec­ondly, we want to ini­ti­ate a process of re­search domi­cil­i­a­tion, be­cause all over the world, post­grad­u­ate schools are nor­mally the nu­cleus of re­search un­der­tak­ing, which is not the case here. We are try­ing to work with the di­rec­tor of aca­demic plan­ning. The univer­sity’s board of re­search is domi­ciled in the direc­torate of aca­demic plan­ning and we have started talk­ing with the di­rec­tor to see how we can domi­cile re­search ac­tiv­i­ties in the post­grad­u­ate school, I think that will boost the rank­ing of the univer­sity.

Re­search is taken dis­cretely, so, what is the strength of ABU? For in­stance if you ask now, what is the strength of X de­part­ment? You are not likely to get any rea­son­able an­swer. Two, if you say X and Y de­part­ments have some re­la­tion­ship, what is the in­ter­con­nec­tion be­tween these two de­part­ments of the univer­sity with­out any col­lab­o­ra­tion. It’s at post­grad­u­ate level that this can be con­trolled. ABU will have some re­search di­rec­tion and I think good things can come out of that. Three, we want to ini­ti­ate some kind of ex­cel­lence awards. If stu­dents are al­lowed to as­pire to some cer­tain heights, I think it will im­prove our re­search un­der­tak­ing and re­search out­put, con­sid­er­ably.

You spoke about re­search, is there any pe­cu­liar re­search that was un­der­taken in this school that you have cel­e­brated or you in­tend to cel­e­brate in the fu­ture?

Yes, quite a num­ber. There was a re­search un­der­taken by a post­grad­u­ate stu­dent in the de­part­ment of com­puter sci­ence, which has now be­come the ex­ams logic. It’s an exam soft­ware, a very suc­cess­ful soft­ware. We have had a stu­dent in the fac­ulty of vet­eri­nary medicine who in­vented a vac­cine, I think for cat­tle. We also had an en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent who came up with some kind of im­prove­ment in com­mu­ni­ca­tion soft­ware; it is one of the top things in the world now.

Prof Bala

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