Vice Chancellor of Dominican University, Ibadan, Prof. Hyginus Ekwuazi in this interview with Prime Business Africa’s LOVETH UGWU BUSAYO OMOJOLA, and EMMANUEL OGUNDELE speaks on quality education offered through the institution’s carefully designed courses that are in line with industry demands and good performances of the students. He equally their plans for expansion.
As the new Vice Chancellor, what are you doing to popularize Dominican University?
Growth is in stages and it is interesting. Our emphasis is not on quantity but quality. The school have plans for attracting students, and one of the ways is by increasing the numbers of programmes the Institution is offering and ensure that it’s given a unique touch. Using Mass Communication as a case study, it is a course offered by most universities, but, we are trying to offer a Mass Communication programme that has value added opportunities to it. We want to ensure that every programme we offer has a certain dimension to it. This dimension, includes: creativity, innovation, entrepreneur, theory and practice integrated in it. The reason for this, is to make sure that students who have studied different programmes in the university should be able to create a shortcut into the industry. The programmes run by Dominican University are programmes that would speak for itself when it is displayed out there.
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The school is advertising itself and speaking to parents about sending their children to the school, but, sticking to what the Provincial had suggested, the University prefers quality than quantity. The NUC has released a new document where seventeen courses were approved, and the school looks forward to start offering the courses from the next academic session.
How many of the University Programmes has been accredited?
All programmes that the Institution runs have been accredited. When the first accreditation exercise was carried out last year, all of the programmes got full accreditation except Economics which got a partial accreditation. By partial accreditation, I meant that, there are some certain things that must be done to get a full accreditation. About three weeks ago, the National Universities Commission (NUC) came for the re-accreditation of the Economics Programme. Since the exercise, we are yet to get a response from them. But, because we were diligent to follow everything that has been outlined by the National Universities Commission, we have no worries about Economics not getting a full accreditation.
The early accreditation for all other programmes was carried out smoothly, but, with Economics, the School do not seem to understand why it wasn’t given a full accreditation. On the NUC’s website, all the programmes offered by Dominican University was given full accreditation including Economics. When the School got a letter from the NUC, all programmes except Economics was given a full accreditation. At first, the School was confused on what to do since what was on the website was different from what was in the letter received by the Institution. NUC made its clarification by stating that it was a partial accreditation for Economics, which by implication meant that we should reapply for a full accreditation for the programme and that was done three weeks ago.
There are other types of accreditations for the Accounting programme. The Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) visited the Institution and promised to work with us. We are still awaiting their letter of recommendation. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) has given a full accreditation for the Accounting programme and there is a formal letter to that effect. The Department of Mass Communication is in provisional talk with Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) for accreditation. There are two things involved in accreditation, and they are the normal accreditation from NUC and the professional accreditation. In regard to that, the school is performing excellently.
What are the challenges of a start-up in the University?
Dominican is a start-up university, which implies that, the Institution is still very young. The School will be having its first and second convocation ceremony for its graduating students on December 10, 2023. Since the School is in its infancy, there are challenges facing it. These challenges are viewed as teething problems which appears very tough, but, are not as tough as it seems.
One of the challenges facing the School is its newness. Taking Ibadan in this context, there are several universities and there is a new university just emerging, that university will certainly face challenges since there are other developed universities in Ibadan. The School is trying all its best to overcome this and the only way out to keep insisting on quality.
Another challenge facing us as a start-up is, becoming known to the people, and, since it is just emerging, the school will be the one to advertise itself in order to get known. The way the school is going about that is like I said earlier – insistence on quality scholarship, even that means having only five students. We are not chasing crowd; let the quality scholarship we offer speak for us.
Funding is another challenge affecting the school. The rise and fall of dollar causing things to be expensive, has affected the School in its start-up, because, there are some certain things that needs to be put in place. The School is in its temporary site and it is also trying to work on its permanent site.
All these challenges are what we face as a start-up university and we strongly hope that these challenges would later yield opportunities.
Are your students employable after graduation?
The students produced by the School are employable after graduation, if not, why would the students be here? Why would the lecturers be here if they cannot be employable after graduation? The Dominican dates back to 400 years and the nature of the Dominican is service to nature, community, man and also the service of God. The type of education offered by the School is that which gives utility value that prepares the person who has received it to serve humanity, the neighborhood and the nation as well. The employability of the Dominican University programme is very high. There are some of our students who were offered jobs where they had their IT, this is due to quality that the school has embedded in them. So, the employability level is very high.
What are your plans for the expansion of the School?
The University has already drawn out the plans on how it would expand the programmes and how it will move from the temporary to the permanent site. We have a ten-year strategic plan that we are trying to fine tune, and it will be measured every year by the progress that has taken place over the years. The strategic plan will be subject to periodic review. Physically, the School plans to move from its temporary site to a permanent site and increase the numbers of lecturers. If you want to grow, you must map out the areas in which you want the growth to take place. The School is growing towards the competitive advantage.