THE recent alarm raised by the Vice Chancellor of University of Medical Sciences, Professor Adesegun Fatusi that the institution “may die” due to under funding cannot be ignored. No doubt, the university remains a fulcrum for manpower development that would in turn enhance humanity.
THIS is more so as specialised universities like UNIMED, which is first of its kind, is structured to provide trainings for personnel that would invariably meet the medical needs of the citizens. At a stakeholders meeting called recently, following the brouhahas caused by the astronomical increase of tuition fees in the university, speaking specifically, the VC had said that UNIMED “risks dying a natural death if the paucity of funds threatening its existence is not urgently addressed”.
HE went further to link the impending collapse of the institution to “a faulty foundation, no start-up fund, no building, no permanent site and current multiple and expensive accreditation rate for courses, stakeholders with weak support, low subvention from the Ondo State government”, which he said resulted in tuition fee increment.
THE HOPE is of the very strong opinion that the gloomy picture painted by the VC portends a dodgy future. However needless it is, and as pointed out by the helmsman, the setting up of the university was not well-thought through, as mere political consideration underpinned the required conscientiousness needed for a specialised medical university. Training medical students in inappropriate and inadequate facilities, exposing them to near-empty laboratories, being taught by poorly-paid disgruntled lecturers, losing accreditation of courses, among others, would make the medical students to be half-baked, and a mere disaster to be unleashed on their prospective patients.
WHILE commending the VC for convoking the stakeholders’ meeting, and for his forthrightness and frankness in saying things the way they are, we are undoubtedly aware that the scenarios painted by the Prof. Fatusi are almost the same in the two other universities owned and funded by the Ondo State government: Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko and Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa.
IT is saying the obvious that the ownership of multiple higher institutions is a big burden on government, as the funding of these institutions has been significantly hampered by the receding resources of the State.
THE HOPE is of the firm belief that government alone cannot fund universities, ditto other higher institutions, thereby engraving the necessity for the participation of other critical stakeholders, particularly indigenes of the communities where these institutions are located.
THE foregoing is in line with the promise made by the indigenes of Ondo Kingdom that they would make frantic efforts to ensure the continuous existence of UNIMED, through sustained funding support.
SIMILARLY, The Hope advises government, education managers, and stakeholders to explore other creative methods of reasonable cost-sharing in the issues of access and funding of university education in the State. With a recalibrated and public-well-received Education Tax Fund, government should also encourage well-endowed citizens of the state and country to support UNIMED and the two other universities.
IN order to eliminate unnecessary duplication of courses across the three universities, scientific template should be put in place to expand intakes in one of the institutions, with the streamlining of overlapping courses in the universities. The intention should be to harmonise duplicated courses.
AS an eclectic solution is sought for the funding problems in the three universities owned and funded by Ondo State, the government should do the needful, if necessary, and make an urgent review of existing possibilities, with due consultation with all critical stakeholders, while government should consider the consolidation of the three universities into one, with the two others as multi-Colleges.
EVEN though the merging of the universities might ordinarily and initially be a bitter pill to swallow, the good people of Ondo State must rise beyond mere emotions and unnecessary politicisation of very sacred initiatives of birthing a sustainable and virile university education in the state. We unequivocally agree with the fear of the VC that the dream of establishing the university, just like the other two, would simply end as “grand delusion” if nothing is done urgently to positively change the narratives.