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Bayelsa-owned University of Africa seeks research endowment

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 The Bayelsa-owned University of Africa, Toru-Orua, (UAT) on Friday said it was seeking the establishment of an endowment fund for research purposes.

Reports have it that the institution said its focus would be on solving developmental challenges and the advancement of the society.

The university made a case for the endowment fund at the 2nd Annual Public Lecture of the Faculty of Basic and Applied Sciences.

The lecture had as its topic  “Utilising Untapped Research Funding Opportunities: An Imperative for Innovative Research in the University System“.

It was intended to enlighten stakeholders on the need for financial support for the institution.

The Dean, Faculty of Basic and Applied Sciences, Prof. Francis Sikoki, in his address of welcome, said that the university’s catchment was bedevilled by many challenges, which could be addressed through research.

He listed such challenges to include flood and erosion, the menace of waterborne diseases, resource depletion occasioned by pollution and environmental degradation.

“Unfortunately, despite the large pool of experts in various disciplines in the university system, the paucity of funds to carry out problem-solving researches has been a major constraint.

“Fortunately, there is a large number of research funding sources which are not being adequately explored.

“One of such areas is the establishment of an endowment fund dedicated to research funding. This is precisely the reason for this public lecture being held today, first to create awareness and secondly to mobilise resources for research, ” Sikoki said.

The guest lecturer and Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the  Governing Council of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Dr Godknows Igali, stressed the need for universities to seek alternative funding.

He said public sector funding of the country’s university system was on the decline.

He suggested that apart from endowments, research funding could also be sourced from alumni bodies, partnership with industry, accessing development funding, university linkages, through putting on the entrepreneurial cap and adoption of blending approach to funding research, among other sundry sources.

Igali, while advising the university’s management to be innovative, said: “The question ahead of us is where does the University of Africa want to belong?

“My submission would be we should be on the right side of history, of being a national problem solver and a much sought after institution around the world.

“It is our disposition towards today that would determine where the University of Africa will be in terms of its relevance in the global education market. But then as the saying goes, it is impossible to make an omelette without breaking eggs, “ he said.

Igali said this would require innovation and creativity from the university’s management.

“For this, as stated earlier, the university must be able to recruit and have the right calibre of staff who can handle this highly specialised duties of raising funds from multiple sources.

“This is because it would be difficult for a researcher to be the one who has the responsibility of carrying out investigation and studies and at the same time be saddled with the hunt for resources,” he said.

In his remarks, Gov. Douye Diri called on federal agencies such as the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to support the state in the funding of research projects by its tertiary institutions.

The governor, represented by his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, also implored the state-owned institutions of higher learning to redouble their efforts to tap research funds lying idle at the NCDMB and other public-spirited corporate bodies.

He emphasised the importance of research in tertiary education and the overall development of society, noting that what makes an educational institution to stand out is the quality of its research works.

Earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of UAT, Prof. Kingston Nyamapfene, said that the public lecture was a clarion call on all stakeholders, especially government to invest more resources in research and development to meet the manpower needs of the university system and society at large.

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