Another result of the restructuring of universities into shopping malls is the introduction of part-time programmes which attract a large number of customers.
These de facto markets which are often located outside the universities hold mostly in the evenings and at weekends. Sometimes, some of the part-time courses are not even available in the full-time curriculum; hence they are christened Non-NUC programmes where NUC stands for Nigerian Universities Commission. The more worrisome is that most of those who teach these courses and those who supervise them are usually not qualified and committed. The state of facilities and the issue of teacher-student ratio are also overlooked, so long as revenue rolls in.Running the universities as markets has included regular award of honourary degrees.
This age-old practice which recognises achievement has been commercialised with the resultant effect that honours are available for sale. As Ikime (1998:9) has argued:Honours for sale are part of the means of…internal revenue (generation). University A wants to build a classroom block; it will cost ten million naira. So it looks around for a couple of millionaires and offer honourary degrees to them at a price.
The price is settled, it is no problem getting beautiful citations prepared…
It does not matter how those to be honoured made their money, just provided the university can also get the loot.This distasteful approach to revenue generation includes lobbying members of the political class. Vice Chancellors are now compelled to learn how to solicit for funds from these politicians to run their institutions; so they bribe them with honourary degrees or rename centers and other complexes after these wealthy “leaders”. This attitude and behaviour have contributed to the lowering of the prestige of university students and staff. No longer are they perceived as special people to be envied; in fact, as inhabitants of a collapsing system, they deserve pity rather than envy.
The university system in Nigeria is passing through a period of economic upheaval. This unfolding process has brought with it new concepts and values as part of the overall process of globalisation (Bako, 1994:20). These changes are part of the conditionalities of the International Monetary Fund (IMF’) and World Bank. Furthermore, the new changes have also strengthened the links between the academia and external capital variously through books and equipment purchase.
As the local economy remains parlous, the necessary support base for tertiary publishing is virtually non-existent. The same is true of the production of laboratory and other equipment. This important vacuum is filled by publishers and equipment manufacturers from the North. In addition to selling state-of-the-art technology such as computers and books, these links with the North are also avenues for propagating ideas, values, and behaviours which are in tandem with privatisation and commercialisation.
Is it any wonder then the bourgeoning phenomenon of private ownership of universities in the country? As these changes take effect the image of the universities has given way to that of a paradise in decay. This decay in physical structures has extended to standards as well. The major preoccupation now seems to be revenue generation and not enforcement of standards.
Nigerian universities appear to have made materialism and hedonism their ultimate pursuits. Our campuses rather than reinforce the values of traditional society undermine and subvert them. Students no longer need to be qualified to gain admission nor do they need to pass examinations to get degrees. Drug addition, rape, cultism and robbery are now the lifestyle of these potential leaders. Nigerian universities are so bedevilled by vices that in 2017 only the University of Ibadan has made it the world ranking of universities as number 604 (Okoli, 2017).
Indeed, the traditional pursuit of excellence has been compromised by the dictates of the market.