ABUAD: Raising The Bar Of Academic Excellence

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Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State (ABUAD) has become a bastion of academic excellence and scholarship within 14 years of its existence. Many thought it would not survive. It has grown to be the much sought-after bride for academic partnership by ivy league universities, including King’s College, United Kingdom. RASAQ IBRAHIM writes on the trajectory of the ivory tower.

In the 1960s, the Nigerian educational institutions were a Mecca of sorts for non-Nigerian students, who were in search of qualitative and functional education.

Then, the country’s institutions were truly great citadels of learning, bastion of scientific and innovative scholarship because they offered quality education and also produced an avalanche of world-renowned scholars.

During the golden era when it was all-around tales of inspiring exploits in the education sector, the educational system was ranked with those in the developed countries as the products compete favourably with those produced in the Western universities.

But, unfortunately, the nation’s universities education once prided itself as the bastion of educational excellence and scholarship has retrogressed and now slides tragically behind other regions of the world that once looked up to the country for leadership and to the extent that Nigerian students now migrate to those countries in search of quality education.

It was in apparent response to the rot in the country’s educational system that foremost legal luminary and philanthropist, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), took up the gauntlet and established Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) after serving his tenure at the University of Lagos as its pro-chancellor.

When ABUAD made its entry into Nigeria’s education space in 2019 to transform Nigeria’s education sector, only very few saw hope on the horizon. The sceptics concern was predicated on the fact that the existing universities have failed to live up to their mandate.

But, ABUAD within the short period of its establishment has proved the pessimists wrong and has courageously trodden on an uncharted path with honours through its exploits in academic excellence, innovation, scholarships and research.

ABUAD, which began academic work on Monday, January 4, 2010, with about 240 students, today has over 8,000 students. Since then, its academic calendar has remained predictable and stable, making it possible for students the moment they are admitted, to forecast with precision, their year of graduation.

The institution, which is located on Ado-Ikare Road, Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, spreads over 130 hectares of land. Apart from the university, other ventures on the campus are a world-class multi-system teaching hospital, a farm covering 1,000 hectares of land, a printing press, an Inn, a bakery, a laundry and an international school, among others.

ABUAD, being one of the foremost ivory towers in the world as acknowledged by Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, was founded on the vision to be one of the leading global educational institutions focused on and dedicated to producing young men and women roundly equipped for higher performance.

Not only that but the institution was also established with the mission to provide world-class, qualitative and functional education by inculcating high moral and ethical values in students, preparing them for lifelong learning, service and fulfillment.

It has grown into a multi-billion naira empire providing jobs for thousands of Nigerians and offering quality education for students from the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory as well as other countries.

It operates a collegiate system and has five major colleges. They are the College of Engineering, College of Law, College of Medicine and Health Science, College of Sciences and College of Social and Management Science. It offers pre-degree, graduate and post-graduate programmes.

The institution’s College of Engineering was described as the best equipped in Nigeria by the Nigerian Society of Engineers and is reputed to be one of the largest in the world. In the same vein, ABUAD’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences and its Multi-system Teaching Hospital is second to none in the country.

The teaching hospital has state-of-the-art facilities that most public teaching hospitals in the country don’t have. It has eight modular theatres, CT-Scan and MRI scan machines and 16 kidney dialysis machines. The hospital has successfully carried out several kidney transplants, and brain and heart surgeries among other medical breakthroughs.

ABUAD, which was described as a model, reference point and benchmark for other universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC), is fully grounded in entrepreneurial and agricultural practice, research and innovation, industrial skills and medicine with operation in line with global best practices. It prides itself on a 21st-century learning institution with blended theoretical and practical skills imparted by first-class scholars.

Since its establishment, the institution has grown in lips and bounds as a world-class institution, which has remained the dream of the founders of the university by making it a place of envy in terms of character and learning.

No wonder ABUAD has become a global brand of academic excellence and the most sought-after institution in the world as its students distinguished themselves and pride themselves as catalysts anywhere they go, especially in the ever-dynamic world.

The catalogues of achievements recorded by ABUAD within 14 years of its creation have proven its commitment to building leaders and expanding the frontiers of scholarship and cutting-edge research in the global space.

So, it was all praises recently when the 10-member delegation of the foremost United Kingdom King’s College visited the institution to study the secret behind its giant feats and partnered with ABUAD on transnational education.

The leader of the delegation who also doubles as the King’s College President, Prof. Shitiij Kapur, was excited by the world-class facilities in the university, which, he said, are among the best in the world.

He applauded Babalola for his foresight in establishing a university that competes favourably with Ivy League universities in promoting scholarship and cutting-edge research.

The King’s College President, Prof. Shitij Kapur said that ABUAD had established itself as a reputable tertiary institution by bridging the educational divide on a global scale.

He described the achievements recorded by ABUAD in education and healthcare as unparalleled and supersonic, saying he was amazed that the institution has over 8000 students within 10 years, a feat which took King’s College more than a century to achieve.

The President of King’s College also described ABUAD Multi-System Hospital as another unbelievable record set by the young citadel of learning.

He stated that his team came to learn from the ambition and mission of ABUAD which resulted in the giant strides recorded within its short life-span.

“I am here today because we are launching the Aare Afe Babalola Centre for Transnational Education. And the centre will be based in London. It’s a privilege to see ABUAD University and my colleague and I are inspired by what we saw.

“We come here not to teach but to learn. What we came to learn is the ambition and mission of this university. I am surprised that it takes this university to go from zero to 8000 students in less than a decade. It took us centuries to build a world-class hospital that we have and you have built one in less than a decade.

“So, I think the future is in your hands. They say humanity began from the continent of Africa and I think the century belongs here. We are here to embrace and we are here to contribute in whatever little way we can to your success.”

Earlier, the Vice President of International Engagement and Service King’s College, Prof. Funmi Olonisakin, said the centre would allow the brightest students in Africa.

“The centre will give the brightest of the people in Africa quality education. We are building a transnational partnership that will allow ABUAD to liaise with other universities in the world. It will enable ABUAD students access to the universities in the comfort of their campus.”

In his remarks, the Founder of ABUAD, Babalola, described the launching of the transnational Education Centre as an assurance that underprivileged people would have access to education.

He said: “This development is an assurance to me that the underprivileged will access education and the future is bright. Some so many people could not afford to go to school, like in my case.

“This relationship we are having with the King’s College will allow them to learn without necessarily going to King’s College or ABUAD and yet they can become graduates like I did.”

Babalola said the growing profile of ABUAD across the world was not a fluke but a product of strategic planning, hard work, dedication, constituency, and commitment to set the highest standard for education in the country.

“I am replicating how I conquered poverty and it is to me hope for now, hope for tomorrow, and hopes for the future.

“I am worried about the level of education in the country. That was why after I left UNILAG as a pro-chancellor, I established this university to be an example of how a university should be run and it is because of the high standard which we have achieved that King’s College directly got in touch with us, we didn’t lobby for it to establish a center for under-privileged people, not only in Nigeria but the whole of Africa.

“To me, there is hope for everybody, there is hope for the rich, the poor and for everybody who wants to work hard and that is what we have achieved today,” the ABUAD founder said.

Curled from The Nation

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