TECH-U: Achieving a Tall Order

Barely two years after its establishment, the First Technical University, Ibadan (Tech-U) has proved skeptics wrong as the institution is at the verge of becoming the first self-sustaining public university in Nigeria. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ayobami Salami highlights the institution’s effort at fulfilling its dreams of producing market-ready graduates that will provide solutions to societal needs, among others. Uchechukwu Nnaike reports

Nigerian universities have over the years been accused of producing half-baked graduates that are not employable, just as their curricula are said to be opposed to the needs of the industry.
To step away from the norm, the First Technical University (TECH-U) was established by the Oyo State Government in 2017 to equip its students with the relevant skill-sets they require to stand-out among their peers.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ayobami Salami, to ensure that none of its student will ever become a liability to the society, it is mandatory for all students to acquire an additional foreign language; get certified (through NABTEB and London City and Guild) in at least two relevant vocations of their choice; and meet all conditions for the award of a diploma in entrepreneurship programme after series of interface with top-class industry experts that will get them ready for the world of work.

As part of efforts to actualise this dream, he said the University has an existing partnership with the Texas Tech University, US, which allows an exchange of staff and students.

“A major highlight of that partnership that should interest you is that henceforth, interested students of this University will be eligible to spend a full academic session at Texas Tech during their third or fourth session and may subsequently return there for postgraduate studies.”

The VC stated that the institution is also in partnership with the organised private sector, which culminated into a curriculum review session that had in attendance notable organisations like the Nigeria Employers Consultative Council (NECA), Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), among other reputable industry leaders.

He described the benefit of the programme as invaluable, as it enabled the university to benefit in no small measure from the critical input of these players in shaping its curriculum and preparing the students for the world of work.

“We are glad and excited that we already have on-board a number of these topflight professionals signed-up as our facilitators; with many more joining the growing list soon. Of course, it needs to be underscored once again, that at Tech-U the balance of instruction is shared 60 to 40 per cent between our experienced academics and industry hands, respectively”, Salami said.

He added that the University had finalised a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Machine Tools Limited, Osogbo within the framework of which its engineering students will have unhindered access to their standard facility for learning.

“We have had a productive engagement with the German International Aid Agency (GIZ) for partnership in their ‘Skills Development for Youth Employment in Nigeria (SKYE)’ for the benefits of all our students.”

Taking cognizance of the fact that not all students desiring the quality of education offered by the university can afford it, the institution had launched a students’ financing scheme now worth over N1 billion.

“Since Tech-U debuted two sessions ago, not less than three hundred beneficiaries have emerged through the scheme. In choosing the beneficiaries, the University relies absolutely on a merit-driven process that involves series of aptitude tests preceded by an open call widely advertised.”

On the rationale for establishing the fund, the VC said: “We are committed to empowering youths from all classes of the society. Our creed is to never subsidise the rich or deprive the poor. We are therefore pleased to raise the bar in students funding. I am happy that the scheme has brought to fruition the dreams of many underprivileged and deprived students.”

He said the endowment fund is generated from the public and private sectors. “Notable public sector contributors for instance are Oyo State local governments. Through their magnanimity and foresight, at five students from each LGA in the state enjoy full scholarship throughout their study on campus.