In pursuit of result based education and academic excellence in Nigeria’s institutions of higher learning, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has expressed readiness to expand the frontiers of its partnership with the United Kingdom, especially in the areas of research development and Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

The Executive Secretary (ES) of the fund, Arc. Sunday Echono, made this known Tuesday in Abuja when he played host to a high powered British delegation led to his office on a courtesy call by the UK Government International Education Champion, Prof. Sir Steve Smith.

Making presentation on the activities of the Fund, the ES said considering the exigencies of this knowledge and technology driven age, the Fund had refocused its directions as regards areas to prioritise in pursuit of outcome based education for Nigerians.

The TETFund helmsman highlighted the areas of focus for the collaboration to include: research development, Information and Communication Technology, and academic staff training and development.

According to him, under the Research Development, the Fund is looking at establishment of TETFund Centres Of Excellence, Mega Research Grant Intervention, entrepreneurship, etc, while

Dematerialisation and digitalisation of thess Projects and aggregation of electronic databases subscription project are in focus under the ICT aspirations.

Recall that the ES inaugurated a thesis digitisation committee barely 48 hours ago.

In the area of academic staff training, ArC. Echono disclosed that TETFund has been making steady effort and has successfully trained over 37,000 staffers to acquire higher degrees over the years.

“Over the years, we have trained more than 37,000 staff both at home and abroad to acquire higher degrees of Masters and ph.Ds, he said, adding that the fund may not be able to sustain such trainings abroad in the face of the increasing demand and the dwindling resources resulting from prevailing socio-economic factors, hence the need to partner and bring in resource persons to renders services locally.

“So we are looking at how we can do most of these things locally, bring resource persons here or create the environment for it, because the challenge we face currently is the issue of exchange rate.

“In the last two and half years alone, we have seen threefold increase in the volume of the naira that has to be exchanged to be able to train people. We would’ve spend 50 to 70 million on each candidate’s sponsor and that is extremely high,” he said.

Speaking, Prof. Sir Smith,the leader of the delegation, expressed appreciation for the hosting by TETFund stressed the need to prioritise research development and release publications, adding that citations of such intellectual works add value to their nation’s of origin.

Sir Smith noted that the idea of collaboration between the UK and Nigeria is a very welcome development.

ES of TETFund, Arc Echono welcoming Prof Sir Steve Smith, Head of the Visiting delegation of the UK Government International Education Champion

Speaking further, he said “The great thing about collaboration on research, is it benefits everyone. I mean, it benefits society, it benefits both universities more. There’s no competition, because if a Nigerian institution publishes with Sussex or wherever, both institutions get the citations.”

On her part, Lucy Pearson, Country Director, British Council said the council had been working to support collaboration between the UK, adding that most of the institution that were represented on the delegation have long standing collaborations with Nigerian universities.

She said the case if the UK is not too far from that of the UK as regards the crisis alluded to by the ES earlier, adding “it is certainly a story of evolution with different institutions developed to help support meeting many of the same challenges that you spoke about”.

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