AS PART of efforts to internationalise Nigerian institutions, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has said it is improving facilities in universities, polytechnics and colleges of education to attract international faculties and students.
The Executive Secretary of TETFund, Arc. Sonny Echono, who disclosed this while receiving a team from the United Kingdom (UK) on International Education in Abuja, also said priority will be given to UK institutions to foster linkages and partnerships.
Echono stated that the collaboration with UK institutions will focus on skills development for Nigerian institutions, adding that the fund is currently ranking its 253 beneficiary institutions, using parameters such as how much multidisciplinary research they have been able to undertake, their degree of internationalisation, among others.
The TETFund boss said “over the years, TETFund has sponsored several students to UK universities. We have MoUs with some UK universities and want to expand that to other aspects.”
He added that the fund wants to ensure that tertiary institutions in Nigeria are much more competitive globally and their graduates internationally recognised.
According to him, part of the partnership with UK institutions is to ensure that TETFund-sponsored scholars return to the tertiary education system in Nigeria to render their much-needed services.
“The government has invested heavily in the education of these scholars, and it is disheartening to see many of them choose to stay abroad after their studies. Our goal is to foster collaboration with British universities to create a mechanism that encourages the return of these scholars to Nigeria.
“And these are things that we were looking at institutional ways of doing that, for example, where we see that where partnerships already exist between our institutions and those abroad, they can share this period of training for example to ensure that they complete their training back home. These are some of the solutions that we are looking at in these engagements that we have,” he said.
Earlier, the UK Government International Education Champion, Prof. Sir Steve Smith, who led the delegation said the UK’s mandate to his team is to deepen relations with the education and research systems of Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Endonesia, Vietnam and India.
Smith, who was a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter, said the UK recognises the importance of retaining highly-skilled individuals in their home countries and acknowledged that the brain drain issue affects both Nigeria and the international community.
“We understand the concerns of the Nigerian government, and we share the vision of providing quality education to talented individuals. By working together, we can create opportunities for these scholars to contribute to the progress of Nigeria while furthering their academic careers,” he said.
He noted that it is a lot cheaper to study here than it is to travel to the UK for three or four years and study. Smith disclosed that the team has been partnering with the National Universities Commission, NUC, on the guidelines for transnational education and that it was reviewing a series of guidelines by the commission.