Medical Fellowship Can’t Substitute Phd As Qualification For VC – Prof Osodeke, ASUU President

The National President, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, in this interview with PUNCH, says medical professionals in the academia cannot present medical fellowship in place of PhD as a requirement for appointment as a university vice-chancellor

There is a ranging controversy at the Lagos State University on whether medical professionals in academia can present medical fellowship instead of PhD as a qualification for the office of the vice-chancellor. What is your take on his debate?

Well, the university has said the minimum requirement (for becoming VC) is a PhD and a medical fellowship is not the same as a PhD. In the medical profession, they are saying it is a medical fellowship but there are many people who have PhD in medical science. The two are not the same. One is a professional certification or qualification while the other is an academic qualification. For example, ICAN is a professional qualification and a professional qualification is not the same thing as a PhD; they are completely different. If LASU says that the minimum requirement they want (for VC) is a PhD, then the person who has a medical fellowship cannot say he has a PhD, nor can a person who is ICAN-certified say he has a PhD. I think we should get it right. The council has a right to set the minimum qualification they want. If the council has said PhD or fellowship, all they have to do is to get the one that the council requested.

 Why are there professors who don’t have a PhD?

There was a time in this country that you don’t have to have a PhD/ICAN before you can become a professor. But today, most of the lecturers who fall under this category have regulated their qualifications except the medical people. Even if you have ICAN you must have a PhD before you can become a professor. It is the same for people in architecture, engineering and other professional bodies. Engineers have their own professional body – COREN (Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria), but for you to become an academic in a university or you want to rise to the top, you must have a PhD; it is the minimum (qualification) set by the NUC (National Universities Commission). The NUC has been very emphatic that PhD and medical fellowship are not the same.

The medical professionals in LASU are alleging a shifting of the goalpost because, according to them, the NUC only came up with the PhD rule in March. What is your view on this?

The NUC made a clarification regarding this in March. Even if it was in March, our colleagues in the medical profession should know that a professional fellowship and PhD are not the same. For them, in their profession, it can be but in the academic profession, you must have a PhD before you can get to the peak. In many universities, the council sets a PhD as the minimum for you to be a Vice-Chancellor. This is because you would superintend over everybody – those with fellowship, master’s, PhD, B.sc etc. That is why LASU has set that standard.

What advice do you have for medical professionals?

There are two options in all professions, including mine. It is either you are going into professional practice or an academic career. If you want to go into professional practice you can rise to anywhere you want to but if you know you want to be in the academic you must have your first degree, master’s and PhD so that you can supervise a PhD student. You can’t supervise a PhD student if you don’t have a PhD. For those in the accounting profession with ICAN, you can get to the top with it, but those in the academic who wants to get to the top must have a PhD because with your ICAN you can only get to Grade 4. To get to the top in academia, you must have a PhD. Today, if you don’t have a PhD, you cannot be a senior lecturer talk less of being a professor even if you have all the required qualifications. So, they are lucky. If the council has set their rules, you can’t go against it.

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