Lecturers in the nation’s public universities have advised the government to put on hold any plan to set up new universities, but adequately fund existing ones.
According to them, existing ones are looking malnourished because of poor funding.
They also said existing universities were suffering from dearth of lecturers and other staff to properly man them.
The lecturers spoke in reaction to the consideration of laws to set up 35 new universities by members of the National Assembly.
They spoke through the leaders of their respective trade unions, incuding the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU and the Congress of University Academics, CONUA.
Speaking for ASUU, the National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, opined that universities should not be turned to constituency projects by the lawmakers.
This is even as the National President of CONUA, Dr Niyi Sunmonu, said while more opportunities should be created for admission seekers, setting up new universities without means to fund and staff them would only compound the problem.
“Our stance has always been that existing problems of poor funding, inadequate facilities, poor staffing among other should be tackled head on.
”However, we are amazed that rather than doing that, our lawmakers and politicians want to turn setting up universities to a kind of implementing constituency projects.
“Now, every set of lawmakers in the National Assembly wants to have new universities established in their constituencies. Nigerians should ask them if they have hope and faith in these universities, and whether they can send their children there?.
“It is like they don’t know how universities are set up, run and what the universities are for. If we are grappling with universities that are poorly funded, with outdated facilities and where lecturers and other staff leave in droves, how are we going to cope with new additions,” Osodeke said.
In his view, Sunmonu said public universities in the country were currently malnourished, as poor funding was making them gradually grind to a halt.
He said: “Without sounding contradictory, I would say we need more universities as the number of admission seekers left in the lurch yearly is too high.
”There are two ways to approach the issue, we can set up new ones or expand the capacities of existing ones. But it will be a great disaster if we set up new ones and continue with the trend of poor funding of our universities. It will simply compound our woes.
“Even if we are going to expand the capacities of existing universities, we still need to fund the universities properly. If we are to expand the capacities of existing ones, what we need to do is conduct NEEDS assessment and go round the universities to know what they need and and how to expand their capacities.
“Once the needs of the universities are met, they can expand and admit more students. Even the new ones they are proposing, who is going to man them?
”Before, it is lecturers from public universities that were servicing private ones, now almost all the universities are experiencing inadequate staffing. Lecturers and other staff members are leaving in droves.”
Sunmonu wondered if the lawmakers knew what university education meant and what it stood for.