NUC Counters ASUU, Says New Curriculum Structure Gives Universities Control
The National Universities Commission (NUC) on Friday defended its introduction of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS) after pushback from the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Based on the new curriculum, the commission would provide 70 percent of the minimum course requirements for graduation in Nigerian universities, while the universities would make up the remaining 30 percent.
ASUU President Emmanuel Osodeke had argued that the new curriculum structure posed a threat to quality university education and would erode the powers of the university senate in Nigerian universities.
According to the union, it is inexplicable that the NUC “pre-packaged” 70 percent CCMAS contents were being “imposed” on the Nigerian University System (NUS).
But the commission, in a statement by its Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics), Dr Noel Biodum Saliu, explained that the idea behind the “70:30 NUC: University provision for the curriculum” was to eventually place the curriculum in the domain of the universities “where it belongs”.
“It is the belief of the commission that with the full implementation of the idea, Universities will run the general requirements for their programmes in line with global realities such that they will be able to create a niche for themselves by introducing courses based on their peculiarities,” Saliu said.
The commission stressed that the so-called NUC component of the curriculum was determined by Nigerian academics, with the commission only coordinating.
“Contrary to ASUU’s claim of the CCMAS unifying university curricula across all Nigerian universities, the Commission’s effort is to de-emphasise uniformity. That, precisely, is what the 70:30 NUC: University curriculum provision does,” Saliu said.
See the full statement below:
NATIONAL UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION
THE CORE CURRICULUM MINIMUM ACADEMIC STANDARDS (CCMAS) IN THE NIGERIAN UNIVERSITY SYSTEM: SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
The attention of the National Universities Commission (NUC) has been drawn to the publication of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) with respect to its concerns over the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards. The said publication contains some misinformation that must be corrected in the interest of all
For the avoidance of doubt, two Acts of the enabling Law under which the NUC operates provide the legal framework for the quality assurance and regulatory mandates of the Commission.
The first of the Acts is the National Universities Commission Act No. N81 Laws of Federation Nigeria (L.F.N.) 2011:
This Act set up the National Universities Commission as a body
corporate charged with the responsibility of advising the Federal
and State Governments of all aspects of university education and the
general development of universities in Nigeria. The second is the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act No. E3 L.F.N. 2004, which
Empowers the National Universities Commission to lay down minimum standards for all universities and other institutions of higher learning in the Federation and the accreditation of their degrees and other academic awards in formal consultation with the universities for that purpose, after obtaining prior approval therefor through the Minister, from the President
Following the enactment of the NUC Act No. E3 L.F.N. 2004, the Commission developed the first set of Minimum Academic Standards
(MAS) in 1989 for all the academic programmes existing in the Nigerian University System (NUS) at that time, under the 13 major disciplines of Administration, Agriculture, Arts, Education. Engineering and Technology, Environmental Sciences, Law, Medicine and Dentistry, Management Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Sciences, Social Sciences and Veterinary Medicine. The MAS served as the reference documents for the first accreditation of programmes conducted in NUS int 1990. In a comprehensive curriculum review in 2004, the MAS was replaced with the Benchmark Minimum Academic Standards (BMAS). These documents were approved for use in Nigerian Universities in 2007. A second attempt at reviewing the BMAS was in 2011, but it was not followed up.
It is instructive to note that in carrying out this very important quality assurance activity of developing minimum standards in the NUS, from 1989 to date, the NUC has always engaged subject area experts across Nigerian Universities. In other words, Nigerian Universities have always been primarily involved in the development and review of the curriculum in the NUS, with the NUC coordinating the process.
Addressing the specific issues raised by ASUU, the NUC wishes to state as follows:
1. That assertion that there was no official communication from NUC to the Universities on the review of the BMAS is not correct. Vice-Chancellors can attest to the fact that the Commission has been communicating with them on the issue over the last five years. In addition, several virtual and on-site meetings were held to intimate them of the curriculum review, and provide them with updates from time to time (Recordings of these meetings are available)
2. The claim that there is no evidence to show that the Universities were involved in the true sense of revision of the BMAS development and the subsequent implementation of the CCMAS in the NUS is also far from the truth. The curriculum review process started in 2018 with the subject area experts in Nigerian Universities producing draft documents, which were forwarded to experts in other Nigerian Universities for their comments. Comments received from Universities that responded formed part of the working documents forwarded to the various curriculum review panels. It is important to note that when the initial drafts of the CCMAS were ready, they were also circulated amongst Nigerian academics. A huge number of comments were
received, which were synthesised and incorporated into the respective programmes. How else would one get the Universities involved in an exercise of this nature? Needless to say that the practice of getting and incorporating inputs from Nigerian Universities has been the tradition of NUC, from 1989 to date.
3. It is important to state that the NUC did not engage the services of any consultant(s) to review the curriculum. The Commission has a Strategy Advisory Committee (STRADVCOM) made up of respected Nigerian academics and Professors, representatives of the private sector and some Directors of the NUC. The NUC Management, with its Directorate of Academic Planning, worked with this Committee and Nigerian Universities in producing the review in question.
4. On the components of programmes purported to have been left out, the NUC wishes to state categorically that it informed Nigerian Universities from the beginning of the review exercise that the Commission would provide for 70% of the minimum course requirements for graduation in Nigerian universities, while the Universities would make up the remaining 30%. The Commission did not arbitrarily arrive at this ratio. As a matter of fact, the NUC had in previous minimum standards documents. made provision for 100% curriculum requirements to Nigerian Universities.
It is instructive to note that in a retreat with Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities in 2017, the NUC proposed to the Universities a 50 50 NUC Universities Curriculum Provision. This was rejected as the Universities felt that the action was 100 drastic and that the proposal should be gradually implemented; they proposed 80:20 NUC University contribution to the Curriculum. However, the NUC, during the comprehensive curriculum review, decided to adopt a 70:30 NUC University ratio for the Curriculum contents.
The idea behind the 70:30 NUC: University provision for the curriculum is to eventually place the curriculum in the domain of the Universities where it belongs. It is the belief of the Commission that with the full implementation of the idea, Universities will run the general requirements for their programmes in line with global realities such that they will be able to create a niche for themselves by introducing courses based on their peculiarities. It is important to emphasise that the so-called NUC component of the curriculum was determined by Nigerian academics, with the Commission only coordinating.
Based on the foregoing, even when courses are omitted in the 70% CCMAS, such courses can be introduced by the Universities in the 30% component. Besides, the provision made in the CCMAS is the minimum requirement and the Universities can go beyond the minimum stipulations, provided the students are not overloaded.
5. The unbundling of programmes has positive bearing on the employability of graduates from such programmes as it makes such programmes more focused to meet their philosophy and objectives. ASUU should conduct more research to get more informed about programme specializations at the postgraduate level vis-à-vis programme offerings at the undergraduate level. University Education is very dynamic and we need to move in line with current realities, especially as obtainable in global best practices.
6. Contrary to ASUU’s claim of the CCMAS unifying university curricula across all Nigerian Universities, the Commission’s effort is to de-emphasise uniformity. That, precisely, is what the 70:30 NUC: University curriculum provision does.
The National Universities Commission wishes to conclude that there is no basis for the attack on the Commission’s process of coordinating the review of the Curriculum of Nigerian Universities. This has been done strictly in compliance with the mandate conferred on it by the Education (National Minimum Standard and Establishment of Institutions) Act No. E3 L.F.N. 2004. Furthermore, the efforts of the Commission in the development of the CCMAS have been acclaimed by Nigerian Universities, the private sector and, indeed, all stakeholders of university education as well as the international community. We believe that hundreds of professors and other credible academics who have been participating in the ongoing CURRICULUM RE-ENGINEERING exercise are members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)!
Dr Noel Biodum Saliu
Deputy Executive Secretary (Academics)