Private universities are better managed because they avoid the potholes public universities have fallen into, says Prof Johnson Eze, Vice-Chancellor, Novena University, Ogume, Delta State.

In an interview, Eze said private universities learn from the mistakes of older public universities because their administrators have worked in public universities for years and know what to correct.

He said: “Because most of the senior staff in all these private school have been exposed to the same situation in public schools or some have come from abroad where things are better and, therefore, they can say well we must have a change and go after the change.

Commenting on the limited number of PhD holders in the university system, Eze said the minimum qualification set by the National Universities Commission (NUC) for lecturers and the length of time it takes to get the PhD in some institutions means not enough of them can be produced in good time.

He said: “The minimum qualification for lectureship is lecturer two. Lecturer two is what you come to after assistant lecturer. If you have a master’s degree, you start as a graduate assistant, that is, you don’t lecture officially, you help senior lecturers. After assistant lecture, the next grade is lecturer two. And the NUC is insisting that Lecture two qualification is PhD. If PhD is the minimum qualification for teaching in the university, how many PhD holders do we have in the country, or how many PhD holders are our universities producing yearly. Does it correspond with the ratio of undergraduates in our institutions?”

Speaking on what Novena is doing differently, the professor of Plant Eco-physiology said the 10-year-old institution is training students who will be self-reliant on graduation.

“In the next five years the indication is very strong that Novena will be making a great deal of progress in producing manpower not only for university, teaching, and for job but for also entrepreneurship. We will not just be producing job seekers but be producing job creators,” he said.

Already, he said products of the institution are excelling within and outside Nigeria.

He said: “In 2011 alone, two students of Novena University won international awards. One of them was Miss Vivian Nwafor, a Biochemistry student, who has always topped her class, won an international award in South Africa. Miss Tessy Askia, a Computer Science graduate of Novena University was the best graduating Masters degree student of Business Information in a university in London and was also given an international award.

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