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Continued closure will kill varsities, say pro-chancellors

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The pro-chancellors of private universities have decried the continued shutdown of the country’s ivory towers by the Federal Government since the outbreak of COVID-19, saying failure to reopen them will have adverse effect on the continued viability of the institutions.

The Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Private Universities urged the Federal Government to approve the reopening of private universities in August following sustained efforts to comply with the guidelines for reopening “in view of the contributions that private universities have continued to make in the manpower training and development in Nigeria.”

“Private universities are ready to reopen, having put in place all the necessary requirements and protocols specified by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure safe and secure campuses. We are prepared to open in phases, first with the graduating students, and probably with the first year students,” the committee stated.

A statement by the Head, Corporate Affairs Unit, Afe Babalola University, Tunde Olofintila, titled: ‘CPCPU urges FG to reopen private universities’, said the pro-chancellors made their position known in a communiqué signed by a former Minister of Education and ABUAD Pro-Chancellor, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, at the end of an emergency online meeting of the CPCPU, which held on Saturday, July 25, 2020.

The communiqué stated, “Our universities have resolved to mobilise relevant resources in our universities across the country to undertake researches that address the challenges of the pandemic for the wider benefit of the Nigerian populace and the world as a whole.

“Indeed, further closure of our universities will be sounding a death knell to the continued viability of our institutions. In particular, the demise of private universities will increasingly become imminent and gravely undermine their role in assisting government in the provision of jobs, education for the populace and overall civil security.”

This, the pro-chancellors said, was in view of the fact that “private universities rely solely on student enrolment and fees, which are only realisable if the universities are open.”

It is globally acknowledged that prompt solutions to economic, medical and scientific problems are best secured through the active participation of universities as knowledge workers through the performance of their teaching and research functions,” the communiqué added.

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