The National Universities Commission (NUC) has disowned the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) top-up programme claiming to bridge the gap between polytechnic and university degrees.
This is contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday by the Acting Executive Secretary of the commission, Chris Maiyaki.
Recalls that for years, there have been calls from stakeholders to end the disparity between Higher National Diplomas (HND) offered by polytechnics and Bachelor degrees offered by universities.
This brought about a bill passed at the ninth National Assembly in 2021 to end the dichotomy but it was not signed into law by the last administration.
The NBTE which regulates technical and vocational education has unveiled what it describes as a one-year top-up programme which offers a platform for HND holders to level up towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Maiyaki, however, called on the general public and all relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to note that the NUC is not a party to the top-up scheme.
“Even though agitation continues to grow for the abolition of the dichotomy in Nigeria, there is, at the moment, no law that has removed the dichotomy between a university degree and the HND.
“The place of technical education, the world over is unique.
“The university degree awarded by the Nigerian university system or any cognate institution is not the same as the HND awarded by polytechnics in Nigeria.
“In the Nigerian higher education space, the processes, contents and methods required for the acquisition of a university degree are substantially different from those needed for HND programmes,” he said.
He noted that at the post-graduate level, the requirements for admission into any masters degree programme for HND holders are, among others, the acquisition of a relevant postgraduate diploma (PGD) from a recognised university.
“The unsuspecting general public and all relevant ministries, departments, and agencies should note that the NUC is not a party to and, indeed, disavows the so-called top-up scheme, being concocted by the NBTE.
“In light of the above, the advice of the NUC is that the NBTE should focus on its core mandate and desist from introducing programmes outside its jurisdiction, and not supported by any law in Nigeria.
“The NUC wishes to inform the Management of the NBTE and the general public 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 the Purpose of Employment, and for Related Matters.
“The bill passed by the 9th National Assembly in 2021, is yet to be assented to by Mr President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”So, eventhough agitation continues to grow for the abolition of the dichotomy in Nigeria, there is, at the moment, no law that has removed the dichotomy between a university degree and the HND.
“Both the NUC Establishment Law (CAP N81, LFN, 2004) and its Operational Law: Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act, CAP E3 LFN, 2004) vest in the Commission the powers to superintend and regulate university education in Nigeria.
“Lay down minimum academic standards in the nation’s universities and other degree-awarding institutions, and accredit their programmes. Thus, the commission is the only constitutionally empowered regulatory agency for university education in Nigeria,” he said.
Maiyaki argued that in most higher education systems, polytechnics coexist side by side with universities for the purposes of producing critical human resources, based on their peculiarities and in tandem with the goals for which they were established. (NAN)