The National Universities Commission, (NUC), has criticized the National Board for Technical Education for introducing a “top-up degree” program aimed at graduates of Nigerian polytechnics holding Higher National Diplomas (HNDs). The universities’ commission, led by its acting Executive Secretary, Chris Maiyaki, expressed that this move represented a clear breach of its designated responsibilities.
Previously, the NBTE had disclosed its collaboration with foreign universities, which allowed HND graduates to elevate their diplomas to full-fledged degrees via a one-year conversion course. This initiative was established to address the persistent disparity between university and polytechnic graduates.
The proposal received support from HND graduates throughout the country, but the NUC, in a strongly-worded statement, firmly discouraged the NBTE from proceeding with its plan.
The statement by NUC reads, “The National Universities Commission has been made aware of reports online that the National Board for Technical Education has officially introduced a one-year top-up degree program in Nigerian Polytechnics to enable holders of Higher National Diplomas to upgrade their qualifications to full degrees with foreign accredited universities.”
It goes on to clarify that the “Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination between First Degree and Higher National Diploma in the Same Profession/Field for Employment, and for Related Matters,” passed by the 9th National Assembly in 2021, has not yet received presidential assent. This means that, despite the growing call for the abolition of the degree disparity in Nigeria, there is currently no law in place to eliminate the distinction between a university degree and an HND.
The statement emphasizes that the NUC is legally empowered to oversee and regulate university education in Nigeria, setting minimum academic standards and accrediting programs for degree-awarding institutions. It asserts that the NUC is the sole constitutionally authorized agency for regulating university education in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the statement highlights the substantial differences in the processes, content, and methods required for obtaining a university degree compared to an HND in the Nigerian higher education system. It clarifies that HND holders who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in Nigerian universities must meet specific admission requirements, including obtaining a Postgraduate Diploma from a recognized university in a relevant field.
The NUC statement also cautions the general public, as well as relevant government departments and agencies, that the NUC does not endorse or support the NBTE’s “Top-Up Scheme,” which falls outside its jurisdiction.
In conclusion, the NUC advises the NBTE to concentrate on its core responsibilities and refrain from introducing programs that exceed its authority and lack legal support in Nigeria, emphasizing its commitment to safeguarding its lawfully assigned responsibilities.
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