The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), has approved the sum of N5 billion special intervention to the University of Lagos (UNILAG), to be captured in the 2021 budget.
TETFund has also increased the National Research Fund to N8.5 billion in 2021 from N7.5 billion.
Chairman, TETFund Board of Trustees, Alhaji Kashim Imam, stated this on Thursday in Abuja, at a two-day capacity building workshop for heads of beneficiary institutions and staff of TETFund.
Imam said that the intervention granted to UNILAG was on the orders of President Muhammadu Buhari, to meet its critical needs, adding that same was also carried out in the University of Abuja in 2020.
He stressed the importance of research as a pre-requisite for national development, adding that no nation can develop without research.
The chairman, however, explained that research was a delicate balance for TETFund, as it was invisible, saying that as a politician, development was counted in terms of physical infrastructures such as roads, bridges, among others.
He further noted that the fund had to strike a balance between funding physical infrastructures and funding research.
On academic development programme of the fund, he said the list of scholars sponsored by TETFund for PhDs and Masters was incredible, warning that if the country funds infrastructure without research and scholarships, the institutions would only be half fulfilled.
“Six state universities and six polytechnics will be added to the centres of excellence next year, and 70 per cent of the funds will be for research funding.
“TETFund will add another 12 centres of excellence next year and allocate N1 billion to each for research operations in our universities,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Prof. Suleiman Bogoro said the centres of excellence project were first designed as zonal tertiary education project.
“It was designed to promote specialisation among participating universities within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Agriculture and Health areas, among others,’’ he said.
Bogoro said the project was however geared toward addressing identified national development challenges, as well as strengthening the capacities of beneficiary universities to deliver high-quality training and applied research.
“Within the 5-year gestation period of the TCOE Project, we await success stories and manifest achievements that will stretch the limits of our expectations.
“The future of this initiative and the possibility of the R&D flame developing into a raging inferno that transforms the research landscape in Nigeria rests squarely on your shoulders,’’ he said.
He added that the workshop was aimed at equipping participants with the information, knowledge and skills in administering the TETFund centres of excellence.
Bogoro reassured the centres of the unwavering support of the Fund to achieve the laudable objectives of the centres.
He urged them to ensure that the guidelines for the management of the centres were strictly adhered to in order to engender the successes that would follow locally and internationally.
Bogoro said that by 2021, polytechnics would benefit in equal proportion with universities as well as colleges of education.
He, therefore, called on universities to demonstrate academic leadership in grant writing and avoid complacency.
Earlier, the Director of R&D and TETFund centres of excellence, Salihu Bakare, said the fund’s international profile had risen significantly as other countries like Ghana and Tanzania have come to understudy it.
Bakare said Nigerian universities must cease to be local universities, but attract foreign students and be ready to compete favourably with any university in the world.
He said that due to targeted interventions by the fund, the universities were now better ranked and more academics have PhDs.
Bakare stressed the need for collaboration, noting that for the first time in the history of TETFund, provision has been made for collaboration in the 2021 budget.