TETFund Act: Atiba VC Calls For Inclusion Of Private Universities

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The Atiba Varsity Oyo Vice Chancellor, Professor Sunday Olawale Okeniyi has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide incentives to proprietors of private universities, given their viable intervention in increasing tertiary educational access as well as meeting the educational needs of the nation’s youths, particularly at the tertiary level of education.

As discussions get intensified over the proposed amendments to the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Act, the VC said that a delicate balance must be struck to address the concerns raised by President Osodeke of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and Comrade Emonefe of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), both of whom cautioned the Federal Government against inclusion of private universities as beneficiaries of the TETFund intervention, arguing that these institutions are private businesses and should pay education tax instead.

The VC said It is highly essential to recognize the valuable contributions that private universities make to the tertiary education sector of our country. According to him, he opined that the government does not only need to encourage and provide a befitting business environment to private university operators but also ensure their inclusion in the intervention allocation of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

However, the exclusive focus on public institutions might not align with the evolving landscape of tertiary education. Private universities, as significant contributors to the tertiary education landscape of the country, should also have been considered for inclusion in the TETFund interventions. This approach would have ensured adequate utilization of the funds in uplifting the collective standards of tertiary education delivery in Nigeria

Furthermore, the VC recast the position of General OA Oyebade at the public lecture during the combined maiden convocation of Atiba University Oyo; titled “The imperative of leadership for national development: Private Universities as Agent of Change”, the General emphasized that a nation’s development relies on intensive leadership activities, especially in education, law, security, politics, sustainable development, and technology.

He said that private universities’ emergence in the 1990s, due to increased demand, introduced a paradigm shift in the country’s educational landscape. He said, that despite facing challenges such as high fees and staff composition concerns, private universities made substantial contributions, offering specialized education and fostering strong alumni networks.

Recognizing these contributions, General Oyebade advocated that the federal government should extend TETFund support to private universities.

This intervention, he stated would enhance infrastructure, research capabilities, and scholarship programs, aligning with broader national development goals. He therefore said that, the call for amending the TETFund Act to include private universities is a right call in the right direction and that it is grounded in the recognition of their pivotal role in leadership development and national progressive development.

Oyebade also advocated that by fostering collaboration between public and private institutions, TETFund can strategically invest in shaping well-rounded, innovative leaders for a brighter future in Nigeria.

The VC also submitted that in crafting a sustainable strategy, it becomes evident that private universities can play a crucial role in the holistic development of tertiary education in the country.

He, however, concluded that “Recognizing the substantial contributions of private universities in Nigeria to the quality of the tertiary educational landscape, it becomes justifiable to extend the TETFund support and intervention to all private universities.

This approach would align with the principles of fairness and collaboration, fostering a harmonious educational ecosystem where both public and private institutions thrive.

“Striking this balance would ensure that the collective investment in education, sourced from the private sector as well as taxpayers, enriches the entire spectrum of tertiary institutions, which ultimately benefits the entire nation’s educational landscape

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