I am not trying to spoil the reputation of any school here because, as we all know, many of these schools have internal issues and policy issues that affect the students. So if your school or alma mater is mentioned, don’t take it the wrong way but try to evaluate the cause so that suggestions can be made to make things better. In compiling this list, I considered a few factors such as duration of study and graduation, infrastructure, library resources, staff-student ratio, among others. I relied heavily on personal research and opinions. I also interviewed with some persons studying in these schools in order to get their experiences. I have also been to some of the universities on my list at a point or another before now. The aim of compiling this list is basically to draw attention to the issues that they have so that the universities can seat up and make the plight of students better. We should also proffer working solutions to the problems identified in this list. I can’t take all the universities since there are so many with issues so I focused more on regional varsities with many applicants. Below is the list:
1. Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State
This school was established in 1961 as a regional university for the South West of Nigeria. It is considered by many as one of the best universities in the country for undergraduate studies. This first generation university has a wide variety of alumni members and has played important roles in training some of Nigeria’s academic, scientists, writers, and aristocrats. However, its postgraduate programme is quite the opposite of what obtains at the undergraduate level. Let us look at some of the issues this university faces:
i. Incessant strike actions by staff and students: The university is regarded as the centre of “aluta” in Nigeria. Staff and students know their rights and don’t hesitate to close down the entire school to assert it. At its worst, there are more than 3 strikes a year and whenever they occur, students go home and any form of research halts. This extends the duration of the programme from 18 months to at least 24 months in the best case scenario and 36+ in the worst.
ii. Self-centred nature of staff: The staff of this university are quite antagonistic towards students. Most take pride in the school’s notoriety for delaying and stressing students. Many can’t help students in basic things and even supervisors are not concerned with the student’s academic progress.
iii. Lack of uniformity by the PG school: In OAU, every department runs its PG programmes however and whenever it sees fit. The PG school only “advises” but never “implements” strict uniformity. This has created situations where some departments are faster than some. Any school where departments are allowed to run programmes however they like usually face delays in PG programmes.
iv. Too many bureaucracies: The PG school has too many protocols for registration, thesis/dissertation writing, defence, graduation, etc. These protocols can take months to accomplish sometimes.
There are many other reasons why the PG programme in OAU is bad but the above are the major ones. If the school can implement a strict adherence to PG calendar by the departments, simplify many of their bureaucracies, monitor staff activities, among others, the PG programme will move faster. The facilities are there and the school has a fairly good library. If every other thing falls in place, OAU will be a school to reckon with in terms of PG programmes in Nigeria.
2. University of Calabar, Cross River State
UNICAL, as it is fondly called, is one of the second generation universities in Nigeria that was established in 1975. Some students have had terrible experiences with this university in terms of PG education. The university has a good academic culture, a wide array of alumni members and fairly manageable infrastructure. It is a go-to university for undergraduate education. However, they have not gotten it right in terms of PG education and below are some of the reasons why:
i. UNICAL allows departments too much flexibility: In UNICAL, every department works independently of the other and does so however it sees. There are no strict policies in place to make sure the departments are running the programmes in line with the PG school’s dictates. With this level of flexibility and individuality, many departments unbearably delay students beyond their graduation deadlines.
ii. Corruption: This is one university where academic corruption has eaten deep into its marrows. There are many reports of PG students being extorted by the staff of the university. Extortion starts upon registration till result collection. In fact, UNICAL is for those with a fat pocket as you will have to pay for everything from the day you pick the form and the day you write the aptitude test to the day you gain admission and graduate. If you don’t come with a fat pocket, be prepared to linger in the system for a long time.
iii. Nonchalance of staff: The members of staff in this university have a very bad attitude to work, save a few. Lecturers may not come and teach as and when due. Supervisors may never read student’s submissions or even be available for discussions. Non-academic staff are not left out. They are hardly accessible for registrations, explanation, etc.
From the above, we can see why UNICAL is lagging behind in terms of speed and other indices of a standard PG programme. The university management has to immediately scrutinise the system and get to the root of the problem before it becomes worse than it already is.
3. Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State
This is the premier university in Northern Nigeria. Many of the educated elites in Nigeria’s north, and even south, are alumni members of this school. It is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful and spacious schools in Nigeria. However, it is plagued with many issues that affect the timely graduation of students. These issues include:
i. Intolerant Staff: This university has certain staff members that are plain bigots, tribalists and fanatics. They only see members of their ethnic group, religion and beliefs. If you are from the other side of the divide, you may face difficulties interacting with lecturers, your supervisor and even non-academic staff.
ii. Too many bureaucracies: Many of the students in this university complain that the system is hard and there are too many protocols. Unlike other universities, ABU has too many protocols that students have to go through in order to finish their programmes.
ABU has all it takes to be at the forefront of PG education in Nigeria. It just has to treat some of the issues that border on intolerance and bureaucracies.
4. University of Portharcourt, Rivers State
UNIPORT is a second generation Nigerian university that was established in 1975. It has produced some of the intellectuals and elites in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. However, it is plagued with various issues at the PG level and these include:
i. No uniformity of PG programmes: In this school, like many others on this list, the departments do not follow a general academic calendar for PG programmes. Each department is free to do whatever it likes and this has affected the duration of programmes badly. There are some departments where students from 2 academic sessions earlier are not done with course work even though new students are waiting to start theirs.
ii. Lack of research infrastructure: UNIPORT is an old school and many of the infrastructure available to students for research are already old and mostly unusable. The library is not constantly furnished with new books, laboratories are in a mess, and the learning environment is not encouraging. Do not expect the best if you intend running a programme in UNIPORT.
iii. Corruption: Given the status of Port Harcourt as an oil city, this should come as no surprise to all. UNIPORT’s staff members love money and will not hesitate to actively go after it even if it means extorting students. Many students have to pay their way through the programme before they eventually graduate.
iv. Nonchalance of staff: The staff members are not after student’s welfare but theirs alone. Supervisors and course lecturers are lazy to the bones and contribute to the delay of students.
UNIPORT has many other problems but the above are the major ones. The school’s management needs to step up its game and create a conducive environment for postgraduate research.
5. University of Abuja
The University of Abuja is a third generation Nigerian university which is located in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja. It is fairly okay for undergraduate degree programmes but has much to overcome if it is to take a lead in PG education in Nigeria. Many Abujalites prefer going to Nassarawa for PG education than UNIABUJA. Below are some of the issues it faces:
i. Lack of uniformity: Again, like the other schools, every department operates their PG programmes independently and the PG school does not enforce strict adherence to its calendar. Because of this, departments with lazy staff tend to delay students unnecessarily.
ii. Lazy staff: Many of the staff of UNIABUJA are unnecessarily lazy and not interested in work. They generally do not like students and treat them most as disturbances than students. Because of this, supervisors hardly graduate students on time as there are no deadlines for such.
iii. Exploitation of students: Given the fact that Abuja is Nigeria’s capital, with a lot of politicians and their wards going to UNIABUJA, the general idea is that money flows in this school. The staff are always quick to remind students of that through some of their exploitative tendencies.
iv. Lack of infrastructure: The university is still undergoing development and because of that, students do not have access to research infrastructure needed to complete their programmes.
If the above issues can be addressed by the management of UNIABUJA, things will surely get better. UNIABUJA is strategically located in the heart of Nigeria and has the burden to serve as Nigeria’s archetype of standard education save for the issues affecting its PG programmes.
Apart from the top 5 schools in the list, there are also some other schools to watch out for in terms of quality PG programmes and duration of study. Like the top 5, these schools have issues that border on corruption, non-uniformity of calendar, nonchalance of staff, etc. They include:
6. Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State
7. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, Oyo State
8. University of Maiduguri, Borno State
9. Benue State University, Makurdi
10. University of Jos, Plateau State
From the above, it is obvious that many regional and “big” schools have a long way to go in standardising their PG programmes to world standard. The common issues that they face border on the inability of schools to fix and enforce a uniform academic calendar for PG programmes, the lackadaisical attitude of staff to work, lack of work ethics, lack of research infrastructure, and more. Many Nigerian schools do have access to online databases such as Ebscohost, Questia, ProQuest, etc; online and physical interlibrary loans; standard ICT systems; theses, dissertations, journal articles and book online repositories, among others. These are things that make PG programmes to run smoothly for the student. It is also to be noted that some forms of delays are caused by students who do not take their work serious. However, if the system is working well, unserious students will be sifted out with ease.
Let us simply hope and pray that Nigerian universities standardise their PG programmes and make it less frustrating for students. For those intending to go to the listed schools or those already there, do not lose hope. Do what you can and wish for the best. Some of you can even be the ones to start the change by writing to the Deans of the PG schools about your plight so that they can address them and make the system run smoothly.