NBTE, NUC On Collision Course Over HND/BSC Dichotomy

The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) has frowned upon the opposition by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to the introduction of a top-up programme for polytechnic graduates to convert their Higher National Diploma (HND) certificates to degree certificates.

It would be recalled that the NBTE, which regulates polytechnics in Nigeria, had come up with a one-year top-up programme in partnership with some foreign universities to convert the HND certificates to degree certificates.

NBTE announced the introduction of the programme in partnership with two foreign universities in August, and by September, it had massed over 30,000 HND graduates who had registered for the conversion of their certificates.

However, the NUC said in a statement that the programme lies outside the mandate of NBTE.

In a statement signed by the commission’s acting executive secretary, Chris Maiyaki, the powers to lay down minimum academic standards and accredit universities and their programmes lie with NUC.

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The NUC advised the NBTE to focus on its core mandate and desist from introducing programmes such as the planned top-up.

“Both the NUC Establishment Law (CAP N81, LFN, 2004) and its Operational Law: Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act (CAP E3 LFN, 2004) vest in the Commission the powers to superintend and regulate university education in Nigeria, lay down minimum academic standards in the nation’s universities and other degree-awarding institutions, and accredit their programmes,” it said in a statement.

However, the executive secretary of NBTE, Prof. Idris Bugaje, responded on Monday (today), saying the NUC has no jurisdiction over the top-up programme.

In a statement by the spokesperson for the board, Ms. Fatima Abubakar, Bugaje contended that only the evaluation and accreditation division of the Federal Ministry of Education has the power to assess foreign degrees and not NUC.

The executive secretary hailed the products of Nigerian polytechnics and cautioned the NUC against discrimination against HND graduates.

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“Only the FME Division of Evaluation and Accreditation has the power to assess the foreign degrees after the students have graduated and may seek them.

“NBTE only provides HND curricula content for credit mapping and eventual credit transfer admissions. Admissions are made by foreign universities, and their senators make awards of degrees, not NBTE. The entire process is designed to operate seamlessly without NBTE.

“NBTE also has no financial benefit in the whole exercise, though we requested low tuition of a maximum of about 10% of regular fees since course delivery is online,” Bugaje explained.

According to him, online programmes are today a globally accepted mode of education delivery, especially in the 21st century.

“Nigerian educational policy has accommodated that with an Open University approved by the Federal Government and NBTE-approved open distance flexible and e-learning centres being operated by 36 Polytechnics at the moment, and the number is growing.

“Nigerian HNDs are much respected globally. Many European countries give them direct admissions for Masters. Last year, a shining example was Miss Islamiyat Ojelade, an HND Distinction in Science Lab Technology (Biochemistry) graduate from the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, who last year received PhD admissions and scholarships from seven top US universities without a BSc or even an MSc. Let us, therefore, start respecting our HNDs here at home and stop this discrimination by NUC and others with this mindset,” Bugaje concluded.

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