We have all heard it, the UK government will cut off 78% of the funds it gives to Oxford University starting 2012. Before 10 years ago, university education in UK was like a birthright to their citizens. They practically go to college free. Though there were some increments in school tuition making it look like UK citizens were paying for their education, it was the government that was funding the bulk of the home students.
But things are tight, government wants to balance the budget. And the hammer has been leveled on education funding across UK including Oxford. The 1,000 year old university is a quintessential and iconic institution that has trained 12 saints, 26 prime ministers and of course Adam Smith. With an undergraduate population of 11,723 students and endowment of $5.3b, it is a big institution.
But hard times are hard times. Budget has to be balanced. The government has said it. The next move of the university was the exciting as aspect of this narrative. They did not go on strike. They did not burn down buildings. They simply decided to look for other sources of funding. Yes, they began a campaign to raise funds and have their eyes on 1.25 billion pounds which if they succeed will be the biggest ever in the history of modern educational institutions.
To get this done, they jettisoned the British scholars and came and hired a Yale Professor, Andrew Hamilton, as the new Vice Chancellor. The man knows the American system of running schools as a venture funds where basically you meet investors to pool funds together. Except in this case, the “investors” will be investing in the future of humanity through developing and preparing a new generation of leaders.
Harvard University has a war chest. It remains the richest university as per endowment with $24.7 billion and Yale University follows at $16.7billion. How did they do this? They go out and look for funds.
The lesson here is that Nigerian education must evolve out of the public funded design that has crippled any meaningful progress for more than 50 years. The British are moving into the American model; now is the time for Nigerian federal and state schools to follow thus. Government cannot fund more than 100 tertiary institutions in Nigeria with any distinction and quality. It will not happen. Tekedia thinks that while Nigeria spreads thinly across many of our public schools, it erodes a genuine opportunity to challenge schools to become creative.
We need to understand that while it is good that a Dean is a professor, it is not necessary that the head of a university is a professor. We can hire one investment banker to raise money as Americans do and allow the profs to have funds to change humanity. It is interesting that a US University President might have never taught one day. But he pools dollars and builds a world-class research team.
Nigeria needs to think because even the British has left the model they sold to us. Tekedia thinks now is that time.