Professor of Accounting and Management Sciences, Professor Luke Onuoha has called for the repositioning of Tertiary Education Tax Funds (TETFUND) as a strategic provider of funds for all universities in the country using appropriate competitive parameters such as quality research and output.
Delivering the 43rd inaugural lecture of Babcock University on Thursday, Professor Onuoha further said that the annual appropriation of TETFUND to the universities should be structured to allow federal universities get 50% of each year’s available funds on the basis of their actual approved carrying capacity; 25% of the funds to the state and private universities on the basis of their actual approved enrolment capacity and the remaining 25% to all three categories of universities on the basis of actual research quality and output.
According to him, “since TETFUND revenue comes from the tax payers, it should not discriminate against private universities; rather it should be available for all academics with acceptable research proposals”.
“Enough of making private university lecturers play second fiddle in the matter of research engagement. TETFUND should stand out as a strategic partner to all academics, irrespective of whether they teach in public or private universities”, he said.
In a paper, Financing Higher Education in Nigeria: A Call for Critical Review and Sustainable Funding Engagement”, Professor Onuoha said TETFUND Management should henceforth incorporate an inspection unit whose responsibilities would include statutory visits to universities through which they ascertain the judicious application of the appropriations made to the various institutions.
“A negative report of the inspection unit should be seen as basis to deny or delay future disbursements to a particular institution in breach,” he added.
Professor Onuoha urged the federal government to borrow a leaf from the experience of other climes (UK, USA and SA) where higher education funding is determined competitively based on research ruality and output.
“That is the way our higher institutions can be repositioned as proud centres of excellence, producing graduates with cutting edge skills requisite for the country’s development,” he stated.
He said the federal government should set up competitive scholarship awards to bright students not minding whether they are enrolled full time in public or private universities.
Professor Onuoha also urged universities’ managements to begin to take well considered risks with a view to creating residual earnings to generate funds for general operations.
“The university space is a huge market that, if well harnessed, would fund many operations of the system without waiting for government or other hand-outs.
Some private universities have epitomized this example and more rooms still exist at many institutions,” he said.
He also urged parents who may not have opportunity of one form of scholarship or the other, to be intentional and strategic with the choice of institutions to which they send their wards, and how they plan the funding of their wards’ education.
“Family heads should consider accruing funds for school fees over several months through personal compulsory savings or they should embrace a systematic approach to meeting school fees obligations and desist from running helter skelter looking for money to pay tuition fees only a night or two prior to the sessional examinations, or a few days before their wards’ return to school,” he advised.