‘Ranking Is Not The Best Way To Measure Universities Standards’
Professor Dapo Asaju is a Professor of Christian Religious Studies. A former Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Ojo, he assumed the position of the Vice Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, Oyo State, about four months ago. He exclusively with SAM OLUWALANA on some salient issues affecting the institution in particular and Nigeria’s university system as a whole.
What was the condition of the university when you assumed office about four months ago?
When I assumed duties as the Vice Chancellor, I met a school full of people who are committed and vibrant. I met intelligent people who have sacrificed a lot to build this university. I met a situation where we already have tradition. We have graduated a number of students and the university was making giant strides. I can say that among the private universities, this university has ranked very highly.
The first and second Vice Chancellors did very well. They built good foundations; they built many structures and without being unnecessarily comparative, I can say that the facilities we have here are far better than what we have in some state universities.
So, I met a very good system, but there were few challenges of under-funding and that is not peculiar to us. These are the challenges we are trying to tackle right now.
There is no Nigerian university ranked among the first 1000 in the world currently. What is your view on this?
I hold a very radically different position about this. Ranking is very subjective; it depends on the parameters that you have used. Ranking is not the best measurement of the quality of a university. Ranking may deal with infrastructure, which is very good. The truth of the matter is that we are training people. It is human beings we are training here, not machines. It is the mentoring of the people we are training that matters.
How is your university treating the issue of research?
It is my intention to attract as many grants as possible for the lecturers. It is my intention to send most of them outside for post Doctoral Fellowship or for Sabbatical or other things, even to go and do their Ph.Ds.
Our intention is to start Ajayi Crowther University Press and have a centralised journal. It is also my intention to develop those in sciences in the related fields to do research so that they can contribute to the development of the country. It is our priority to encourage research. It is in the front burner.
Recently, an official of the Federal Government official tasked tertiary institutions in the country to join in the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration.
What is your position on that?
Our students are taught to stand on their own, to be disciplined, to be honest and to be Godly. Buhari as our President is doing well as far as the anti corruption crusade is concerned and we will support him in everyway possible.
Our own is to do our bit to ensure that our students have good work ethics as far as general studies is concerned so that they will be good citizens and patriots. If they are able to do this wherever they find themselves, they would be able to prove themselves as people who will be able to resist corruption and stand on their own wherever they are in spite of the temptation around them. That is what I have to say as far as corruption is concerned and I know we are to set good examples.
We want to run a university that is transparent; a university where you are content, where people live simple, humble lifestyle. If we are able to do this, we would have complemented the effort of the government.
Moreover, we are also developing students who are courageous enough to voice out their mind. You see, advocacy is very important and being the watchdog over the society is also very important. So, we have students who are knowledgeable and confident enough to be the Gani Fawehinmi of this world and speak up against evil and immorality. We have students who can set examples because they have credibility. We are seriously emphasising on that.
What is your take on the recent students riot in a private university and the aftermath of the incident?
Students of Ajayi Crowther University do not have the opportunity to do these things. They are kept within the campus when they are here and there is no room for anomalies. Those who have to leave the campus must do so through the Students Affairs Department and their parents. That way, we are able to curtail them so that they will have no opportunity to go out to be tempted to be engaged in abnormal behaviours.
I hold a very radically different position about this. Ranking is very subjective; it depends on the parameters that you have used. Ranking is not the best measurement of the quality of a university. Ranking may deal with infrastructure, which is very good.
For sexual harassment, this is a Christian-based university and the lecturers are expected to see the children as their daughters and sons and the lecturers are keyed into this. So, I do not belief that we would have that as a problem.
As a Christian institution, do you admit Muslims as students and can you allow them to erect a mosque in the campus?
This is a Christian university; no Muslim university will ever allow a church in its premises. However, we allow Muslims who come to attend lectures without hindrances. We have several Muslims who are here and who are studying. We respect their faith; we don’t compel them.
I was baptised as a Bishop and as Vice Chancellor, I made a public announcement that Muslims are free to maintain their faith and practice their religion. They are here for academics. Hence they must cooperate with us. But nobody forces anybody as far as faith is concerned. It cannot happen to have a mosque here. It won’t happen, because it would not happen to have churches in a Muslim environment.
You know Christians have been giving, giving, giving and we are not fools. If you go to Islamic countries, everywhere is Islamised; Christians
are not allowed their freedom whereas the Muslims enjoy in Christian territories. But we are here for academics. Exposure to other people’s religion enables you to have a broad perspective to relate harmoniously. That is the problem we have. Until we begin to put religion where it belongs, especially in the school curriculum, we will be running into trouble
That is the problem we have. Until we begin to put religion where it belongs, especially in the school curriculum, we will be running into trouble because in the absence of broad view, people who are fanatics will be killing other people to make the world unmanageable. That is what is happening today.
But government does not want to see religious studies as anything very important. To them it is not viable. In this university, we are evenstruggling to get students to come and study it. But talk about the number one problem today in the world, it is insecurity, insurgency and terrorism. This is because it is religious. So, science can be destroyed, religious riots can destroyed. When they wipe out your technology, who are you? What will you do when all other disciplines are down?
That is why we teach people to be very
Godly and this university is named after Ajayi Crowther. He was the one who understood Arabic and could speak 13 different languages. He was the first to translate Yoruba Bible into Igbo language, yet he was a Yoruba man. That is the kind of bridges that we are talking about building and that is our legacy here.
The Anglican Mission brought Christianity and education to this country substantially and the mission schools did a lot in raising people to become who they are across religions. So, this university is the ultimate Anglican contribution to the society and we intend to maintain that tradition with openness, fairness, equality and excellence.
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