The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has said it may have to suspend the foreign aspect of its scholarship program for academic staff as it is having difficulties paying foreign tuition fees and stipends.
The Executive Secretary, TETFund, Mr Sonny Echono, who made this known at a One-Day Stakeholders’ Engagement on Emerging Issues with the TETFund Intervention in Abuja on Wednesday blamed the development on the scarcity of forex and inadequate allocation of funds.
Echono said since the Fund’s allocation was barely enough to service programs under its Tertiary Scholarship for Academic Staff (TSAS), the fund was considering suspending foreign scholarships while also considering an upward review of local scholarships. He said the Fund is also discouraging beneficiary institutions from initiating new Benchwork programs.
Aside from the funding and forex issue, Echono said there are also issues of scholars not returning to serve their bonds at their home institutions upon completion of their programs.
“In fact, the challenge of scholars absconding has undermined and complicated the TSAS program and brought it under intense scrutiny. It is for these and other reasons that this engagement was organized. We need to address these challenges and find solutions to ensure the effective and smooth implementation of our scholarship programs,” he said.
The executive secretary noted that the fund recently signed several MoUs with some prestigious institutions overseas that include universities in Malaysia, India, Brazil, France, and the United States to boost and enhance the TSAS program in the future.
Focus on in-country training
Also speaking at the meeting, the former Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola, called for a monitoring and implementation system to ensure that the academic calendars of universities were adhered to.
Okebukola who spoke on TSAS, emerging issues, and possible solutions, called for reduced TETFund overseas scholarships while encouraging in-country training in TETFund-strengthened PG programs.
He said that rather than continuously spending a lot of funds on foreign training, local universities should be provided with state-of-the-art facilities while carrying out accreditation of postgraduate programs.
“In offering solutions to these challenges, there is a need to offer TETFund support to top-rate lecturers from overseas universities to come to Nigeria to join local PG training by Nigerian professors. We must send professors (of at least 10 years standing) for capacity building to top-rate overseas universities in carefully selected programs in return to bolster doctoral education and supervision,” he said.
Similarly, the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Chris Maiyaki emphasised the need to develop new strategies for funding while ensuring sensitivity to the evolving challenging dynamics through qualitative funding. Maiyaki advised the fund to revamp its monitoring mechanism for quality assurance to have a better return on investment in its projects.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the House Committee on TETFund, Mrs Miriam Onuoha said in making essential infrastructure available in tertiary institutions, there was a need to ensure inclusivity, especially with Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWD).Follow us on social media