The Vice-Chancellor, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Professor Folasade Ogunsola has said that the university’s management since assumption of office in the last one year has been working assiduously in putting in place the building blocks to make the institution future ready as well as to boost the UNILAG brand.
Speaking during a media parley at the university on Thursday Prof Ogunsola said the management was determined to push forward to ensure that the University could grow and deliver on its mandate of teaching, research and service through the Future-ready agenda that is encapsulated by the 4 pillars of growth: Growing the Finance, Growing the infrastructure, Growing the Reputation and Growing the Manpower (FIRM).
“This last year was one of consolidation, seed sowing and growth which we have achieved by building on our strengths, strengthening and developing new partnerships and facilitating the creativity and initiatives of staff and students. We have been putting in place the building blocks to make UNILAG FUTURE-READY.
“We recognize that at the University our main function is to develop minds and influence critical and qualitative thinking that will then drive the development we need. We recognize the primal place of our students but we believe also that students can only get qualitative education if we have quality staff who are energised, comfortable, committed and can self-actualize. Without them there is no university. They are the University. A considerable part of our strategy is therefore on staff development which we have commenced and encourage,” she explained.
Explaining further, Prof Ogunsola said in as much as the inadequate funding of the University is a known fact. It is clear that there is need to have new ways of generating revenue to meet the institution financial obligations.
“The raising of the obligatory fees was a difficult but necessary decision that had been taken even before the subsidy removal. This was to reduce the growing deficit. The fees still mean that the University can continue to subsidise the education.
“As at today over 32,778, undergraduate students have registered in both Akoka and Idi-Araba and I am glad to state that as we promised, no student has dropped out because of the increase in obligatory fees. To date, 765 indigent students have benefitted from various student support schemes including scholarships to cover obligatory fees, Adopt-an-Akokite, free meal ticket per day and work study.”
She also added that “to ease payment for parents and self-sponsoring students, we also introduced instalmental payments and as you all recall, we reduced the fees by N20, 000 across board after discussions with NANS and our Student Faculty Presidents.
“To support students especially the indigent, we revitalised the work study programme from 200/hr to between 500-1000/hr to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on transportation we partnered with Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) to facilitate additional BRT dedicated routes to convey passengers from Berger Bus Stop axis and Oshodi/Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State, respectively,” explained.
The VC said that the administration is determined to ensure that old infrastructure, most especially hostels which are national assets are preserved and to this end have prioritised the renovation and upgrade of old facilities while commencing the building of new ones.
She also added that this is aside other infrastructure development which cut across the university.
For reputation, the university VC said building the institution’s reputation is both global and local. “And we continue to forge ahead in research and this year various faculty have attracted a total research grants worth over N11, 511, 906, 630.20.
“Also, UNILAG was recently selected as one of the University beneficiaries of a professorial Chair Endowment Fund worth N30, 000,000.00 by National Communication Commission. The endowment is to enhance focused-research activities and improve the quality of “industry-ready” graduates produced by the university in telecommunications and Social Sciences, areas that greatly impact the activities of the Commission and Telecom industry.
“We are recording significant collaborations with other global players in the higher education sector with significant and visible in research and other academic collaborations.”
Speaking further at the forum, Prof Ogunsola added that the management also gives priority to training of both teaching and non-teaching staff of the institution.
“Following the University’s acquisition of licenses for the Coursera programme, members of staff have embraced the opportunity for capacity development through the programme.
“The University aggressively pursued capacity building with Certificate course in technical works and facility maintenance for artisans. Our regular staff trainings for enhancing service delivery to our students was sustained with the holding of a 2-Day Training for Sub-Deans, Course Advisers and Faculty Officers on effective student management and academic concerns.
“Junior Faculty were trained on management of Research grants. They were exposed to recent trend and methods of preparing a successful grant as well as managing the grant,” she stated.
Other achievements she listed included, going Green; sports, the University funded three of its athletes who were among those selected to represent Nigeria at the 31st World University Games in Chengdu, China and Deeping Community Relations.
Stating that the last year has been one of change of financial crisis in the country, Prof Ogunsola affirmed that the crisis affected the University as well but they were largely able to weather the storms.
She however added that the university also faced challenges which include staff Housing; funding and security.
“Funding which remains a challenge to optimising quality education delivery, but we are not relenting in our efforts. We are hopeful that our initiatives, some of which we have highlighted above, will be complemented with government support to improve the situation soon.
“In closing I must note that we are beginning to experience unprecedented threats to the security of university property. In this year, we experienced incessant attacks on university property but I will say that the combined efforts of our security agents and the Nigerian Police have helped to stem the tide. We will continue to ensure that we keep our campuses safe,” she said.