The Board of Trustees of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, (TETFund), has approved a total of N5 billion special intervention to the University of Lagos (UNILAG) to be captured in the 2021 budget and also an increase of the national research fund to the tune of N8.5 billion in 2021 from N7.5 billion.
Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees, Alhaji Kashim Imam, disclosed this at a two-day capacity building workshop for heads of beneficiary institutions and staff of TETFund centres of excellence, in Abuja on Thursday.
Imam said the intervention to UNILAG was on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying that same was also carried out in University of Abuja in 2020.
He stressed the importance of research as a prerequisite for national development, adding that no nation could develop without research.
He, however, noted that research was a very delicate balance for TETFund as it was invisible, adding that as a politician, development was counted in terms of physical infrastructures such as raids, bridges, among others.
He further noted that the fund had to strike a balance of funding physical infrastructures on one side, and funding research on the other hand.
On academic development programme of the fund, he said the list of scholars sponsored by TETFund for PhDs and masters was incredible, warning that if the country funds infrastructure without research and scholarships, the institutions would only be half fulfilled.
“Six state universities and six Polytechnics will be added to the centres of excellence next year, and 70 per cent of the funds will be for research funding.
” TETFund will add another 12 centres of excellence next year and allocate N1 billion to each for research operations in our universities,” he said.
Similarly, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro said the TETFund centres of excellence project was, at the first instance a zonal tertiary education project designed to promote specialisation among participating universities
within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, Agriculture and Health areas, among others.
Bogoro said the project was however geared toward addressing identified national development challenges, as well as strengthening the capacities of beneficiary universities to deliver high quality training and applied research.
“Within the 5-year gestation period of the TCOE Project, we await success stories and manifest achievements that will stretch the limits
of our expectations.
“The R&D and innovation flame has been ignited in Nigeria, thanks to our modest efforts, but the future of this initiative
and the possibility of the R&D flame developing into a raging inferno that transforms the research landscape in Nigeria rests squarely on your shoulders.”
He added that the workshop was aimed at equipping participants with the information, knowledge and skills in administering the TETFund centres of excellence.
Bogoro reassured the centres of the unwavering support of the fund to achieve the laudable objectives of the centres.
He urged them to ensure that the guidelines for the management of the centres were strictly adhered to in order to engender the success that would in due course, help to secure funds for them locally and internationally.
He further said that by 2021, polytechnics would be brought on board to benefit in equal proportion with universities as well as colleges of education.,
He therefore called on universities to demonstrate academic leadership in grant writing and avoid complacency.
Earlier, the Director of R&D and TETFund Centres of Excellence, Salihu Bakare, said TETFund’s international profile had risen significantly as other countries like Ghana and Tanzania have come to understudy it and implement their own versions back home.
Bakare said Nigerian universities must cease to be local universities but attract foreign students and compete favourably with any university in the world.
He added that due to targeted interventions by the fund, the universities were now better ranked and more academics have PhDs.
He stressed the need for collaboration, noting that for the first time in the history of TETFund provision was made for collaboraton in the 2021 budget.