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Nigerian varsities are beginning to attract foreign students, says NUC

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From Fred Ezeh, Abuja

National Universities Commission (NUC) said on Friday that Nigerian universities are beginning to attract the interest of foreign students, describing the development as dividends of years of reforms, academically and otherwise, in the university system.

NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, confirmed that for the first time in 20 years, Nigeria has received foreign students from several countries, and recently, students from over 17 countries subscribed to one university alone, courtesy of the African Centre of Excellence (ACE) programme.

Prof. Rasheed who spoke at the 2022 ACE Regional Conference in Abuja, with the theme: “Sustainable Integration of Digital Education in ... Covid-19 Era” said the conference was organised with the aim of deepening education stakeholders’ understanding and participation in the digital education landscape.

He confirmed the unbundling of several programmes in the university to enable refocus and produce professionals in different areas.

Prof. Rasheed confirmed that blueprint for revitalising education in Nigeria was developed, ready for use, until COVID-19 forced a minor change in the document, adopting sustainable integration of digital education.

Prof. Rasheed noted that one of the blueprints was to carry out a comprehensive review of the curricula, and after four years with over 1,200 academics involved, the NUC successfully re-engineered the curricula of universities.

He disclosed that a memo to that effect has been developed by the Commission and sent to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), for approval.

Dr. Olivier Kuttel, the Head of International Affairs of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, EPFL, Switzerland, in his remarks,

challenged African Universities to embrace, deepen digital education and make it acceptable to their societies in order to achieve its desired impact.

Kuttel said the biggest impact on digital transformation was COVID-19, adding that online teaching was key for his school’s ability to continue its academic programmes during the pandemic.

He, therefore, called on universities in Africa to go digital, taking into cognisance the society they are serving.

According to him, digital technology has a huge impact on education, research, innovation and the society, stating that, with digital technology, teaching and research can easily be done, share result and the impact is also felt by the society.

The Secretary General, Association of African Universities (AAU) Prof. Olusola Oyewole, urged African universities to take steps towards achieving digital sustainablility to close the educational gaps in the system.

Oyewole noted that sustainability of digital technology can create opportunity for the growth of a digital economy where digital skills can be learned for relevance.

The Executive Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Dambata, said in his submission that education is the most powerful weapon to change a society, and digital technology offers the opportunity for that change to take place.

Dambatta who was represented by the Head of Research at NCC, Mr Kelechi Nwankwo, said that NCC was on a mission to encourage the procurement of new technologies, and carry out cutting-edge research for sustainable economic growth and development, hence NCC is collaborating with the academia.

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