Tetfund Boss advocates for new tertiary education funding models

By Chukwumerije Aja, Enugu 

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The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund in Nigeria, Arc. Sonny Echono has advocated for a new model of sustainable funding for tertiary education in Nigeria.

Arc. Echono made the call while delivering a lecture at the 51st Convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria held at the Nsukka campus of the University with the theme: “University Autonomy And The Challenge of Sustainable Education Funding in Nigeria”. 

The Executive Secretary identified three fundamental areas that needs to be addressed.

According to Echono, “the first is funding which is currently below the global average and needs to be increased and deployed in a more transparent manner and better managed.”

The Executive Secretary commended the recent 3% increase in education tax as a step in the right direction that should be complemented with increased budgetary allocations.

“The second is the university curricular. It needs a revamp to produce graduates who are better suited to the realities of the national economy, which is an economy that can’t offer more formal employment at present, but rather needs job creators

 “And the third is for the nation’s universities to generate their own income to complement government funding. With the current economic fluctuations in the country, our universities need to fully embrace and upscale their roles as economic contributors, along with research and teaching,” Echono noted.

The Executive Secretary said that government alone cannot be the sole source of financing for university education as he provided a workable solution for sustainable funding which include: Cost-sharing to allow students who are primary beneficiaries contribute to the funding of the system through the payment of tuition fees to complement government subvention to the university.

The recently introduced students loan scheme should be institutionalized with a moratorium to provide an avenue for growing number of students to access long term loans at affordable rate to support their education amongst others.

On University Autonomy, the Executive Secretary suggested that for universities to govern themselves, appoint their key officers, determine the conditions of service of their staff, and control students admissions and academic curricular without undue interference from the federal government and its agencies, the Universities should look at the (Miscellaneous Provisions) Amendment Act 2003 (otherwise called the Universities Autonomy Act No. 1, 2007)

In conclusion, the Executive Secretary noted that the incessant industrial action by staff unions of universities, bothering on challenges of funding had further heightened the need to explore innovative, sustainable funding models for university education in Nigeria.

“This implies rethinking stakeholders involvement in education financing to secure a qualitative and functional tertiary education system, which is an essential tool for sustainable development,” Echono noted.

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