Okebukola Lauds Covenant, Expects More African Varsities in World Rankings
After a decade of use of the African Quality Rating Mechanism (AQRM), accompanied with quality-enhancing remediation, the quality of higher education in Africa would have received a boost significant enough to pop up many more African universities on global league tables, the Chairman, Strategy Advisory Committee, National Universities Commission, Professor Peter Okebukola has said.
He added that with such improvement in fortune, interest in global league tables would hike and the ranks of the “rankophobic” would begin to thin.
Okebukola handed down this message on Thursday, July 18, 2019, at Covenant University, Ota, where he delivered a lecture with the topic, ‘World Ranking Parameters: Matters Arising for African Universities”, as part of the activities in celebration of the University’s 14th Convocation Ceremony.
Among other scenerios for the future, according to him, was the refinement of AQRM within the African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework (PAQAF), the desire of many heads of higher education institutions in Africa electing to be part of national and global ranking schemes, expectations that in the coming years, Vice-Chancellors of African universities seeking international partnerships would not be averse to being part of national and international ranking exercises, and the push for centre of excellence which would trigger a swing to competitive ranking, among others.
According to Professor Okebukola, universities were ranked by several indicators of academic or research performance, including alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, highly cited researchers, papers published in Nature and Science, papers indexed in major citation indices, and the per capita academic performance of an institution.
He said God had blessed the vision of Covenant University as a world-class university that would be a pride of Africa as well as take its place among the Ivy league Universities on the global platform. “Right before our very eyes, we are seeing the fulfilment. Today, on the Times Higher Education ranking, Covenant University is West Africa's No. 1 university and 151st in the world.
To the graduating students, Okebukola said, “You shall ever be the head not the tail wherever you go. You will continue to shine during your NYSC service year, you will shine and be the best of the pack during your postgraduate studies, you will shine in your work places and be among the best husbands and wives, parents and grandparents of wonderful children the world has ever known. So, shall it be in Jesus Mighty Name”.
While making his comments on the lecture, the Chancellor and Chairman, Board of Regents, Covenant University, Dr. David O. Oyedepo, asserted that ranking had gone beyond the university system. He noted that ranking continued all through life as people lived in a very competitive world and that consciousness helped to drive towards excellence in life.
According to him, there was nothing magical about excellence, it’s simply one’s commitment to continuous improvement. Ranking consciousness, he affirmed, would help to keep people in motion towards improved performance in any area they were involved.
Asserting that people lived in a world of change, both revolutionary and evolutionary and both good and evil, Dr. Oyedepo said that the university had an obligation to hold fast to the best of the past and move fast with the best of the future, while people should commit ourselves to creating the future that they desire.
The Chancellor expressed his desire to see universities in Africa climb their way to the top, not by just wishing, as there was no accomplishment without a cost attached, just as there was always a cost to every tower that anyone wanted to build.
Dr. Oyedepo thanked Professor Okebukola for opening the audience up to those issues and bringing them back to life so that they could move forward all through their endeavours. Covenant University, he stated, was still learning on getting there, and would remain committed to learning and making use of all the things learnt so she could get there faster than imagined.
The Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor AAA. Atayero, in his remarks, said the topic of the lecture was apt considering the number of Universities in Nigeria and Africa currently listed in the world university rankings. He submitted that Africa could not pretend to be immune to rapid changes in the world and the demand for quality it imposed on the educational system in the fast-evolving knowledge economy.
While asserting that education was one of the necessary factors of development, Professor Atayero said that no country could achieve sustainable economic development without substantial investment in human capital. “Education raises people’s productivity and creativity, promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. As centres of knowledge, universities facilitate discoveries and innovations through published research outcomes, which becomes basis for formulating policies that impact on socio-economic development,” said the Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Atayero, who asserted that Covenant’s vision was to be a leading world-class university, acknowledged that to the glory of God, the vision was fast becoming a reality as Covenant had within the year 2019, featured in eight of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. “At Covenant, we are keen to initiate, steer, and participate in discussions that would reshape the world university ranking parameters to be all inclusive and today’s lecture is geared towards this aspiration,” he stated.
He expressed appreciation to the Convocation Lecturer, Professor Peter Okebukola, for accepting to deliver the lecture, adding that as Chair of the Strategy Advisory Committee of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Okebukola was passionately involved in the strategic moves of the Commission to entrench global best practices in the Nigerian University System.
Meanwhile in their goodwill messages, both the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Adamu Abubakar Rasheed, and the Vice-Chancellor, Chrisland University, Professor Chinedum Babalola, appreciated Covenant University and her founder, Dr. David Oyedepo, for the giant strides the institution had taken and continued to take in her short time of existence.
Prof Abubakar Rasheed, who described Dr. Oyedepo as a very great Nigerian and a great citizen of the world, said he had demonstrated determination with clarity of vision and commitment, “because building this university and sustaining the reputation it has started building is not a small thing. Universities all over the world, the good ones, are ranked by reputations, and this university is building a reputation, and the chief builder of this reputation is Dr. Oyedepo”.
The NUC helmsman asserted that but for Covenant University, the whole idea of private university in Nigeria would had been defeated. “This university is the savior of the idea of private university in Nigeria because we see what she is doing,” he affirmed.
On her part, Professor Chinedum Babalola, whose university had recently engaged Covenant as mentor, said that through the knowledge gained by her son, who is an alumnus of Covenant, and the exploits the University continued make locally and internationally, she could vouch for Covenant as the best University in Nigeria and Africa.
“So, together, Covenant University has become our parent. We are here to learn and by the grace of God learn fast. On this occasion I congratulate the Eagles and we know you will fly higher and higher. We wish you success; God will take you there because you have had a good foundation”.
Other distinguished personalities personalities at the event were members of the University’s Board of Regents, Management Team, members of the Senate, faculty and staff, graduating students, invited members of the academia, and other distinguished personalities.