Ramon-Yusuf, NUC Director Lists UniPort’s Path To Academic Excellence

Issues bordering on how to reposition the University of Port Harcourt to achieve academic and administrative excellence in the face of dwindling resource allocation in a highly competitive operational environment, formed the main thrust of a one-day retreat for top academic and administrative staff which held at the Senate Chambers on Saturday, September 3, 2016. 
Delivering a lecture entitled: “Attaining Excellence at the University of PortHarcourt:  What Trajectory?”, Director of Research and Innovation at the National Universities Commission, Dr. Suleiman Ramon-Yusuf, commended Management of the University for mounting the retreat aimed at updating top level staff on modern management techniques for quality service delivery. 
“Despite the resource constraints, Africa needs a new generation of universities that will be veritable engines of economic development and social regeneration. Universities have to position themselves to play a strategic role by re-considering their vision, mission, functions and operational structures.
“Whether we like it or not, we are part of the globalization train, which is moving very fast and the excuse that we are a developing nation and we donot have money is no longer tenable. The problem with a developing country like Nigeria is that we found ourselves in a conundrum, where we are expected to do quite a lot with very little. So, it is a big challenge for us. Since we have no more excuses to give, we must innovate; we must be critical thinkers; we must think outside the box and ascertain where our strength actually lies. We generally look outside for solutions to our problems, which are sometimes peculiar to us. Globalisation makes it possible for us to continue to do whatever is necessary to remain competitive,” the Guest Speaker told the gathering.
“Far-reaching reforms are urgently required in curriculum design, pedagogy and criteria for student recruitment. Universities must take a frontal approach in nurturing creativity and innovation and incubate businesses, using the Silicon Valley as a model to be emulated by research institutions,” Dr. Ramon-Yusuf submitted, urging university managers to be more creative in their approach to make their institutions relevant in the years ahead. 

He listed overcrowded classrooms, over-enrolment, paucity of qualified academics with less than 60% PhDs, excessive “moonlighting” (teaching in other universities), preponderance of “analogue” lecturers’ poor (moribund) research culture, poor mentorship culture, abuse of promotion guidelines, poor governance and management, delay in release of results, cases of missing grades, delay in the processing of academic transcripts and abuse of academic freedom, as some of the problems plaguing Nigerian universities today. 
Earlier in his address, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, commended staff for turning out en mass to attend the programme, even on a Saturday morning, when they could have been at private functions. “It is an indication that the participants are supportive of the administration’s vision to reposition the University of Port Harcourt for academic and administrative excellence. Let me, especially express gratitude to the Guest Lecturer, Dr. Ramon-Yusuf, who has spent a greater part of his career at the NUC, for finding time to deliver the lecture. I am hopeful that participants will strive to implement the recommendations made by our Guest Speaker to move the University to where we all want it to be in this competitive age. This retreat would be adjudged to successful if we all decide to reproduce the ‘take home’ points on our desks,” Professor Lale told the participants.
The well-attended event featured an interactive sessions during which Dr. Ramon-Yusuf responded to questions posed to him by participants on some of his recommendations. The retreat was attended by Principal Officers and other top Management staff, Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Deans of Faculty, Centre Directors, Heads of Department and Units, amongst others.


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