Two months after the combined convocation of University of Abuja, some students of the institution’s Centre of Distance Learning and Continuous Education are at daggers-drawn with the university authority over non-appearance of their names on the list of those who recently graduated.
The students, who claim to have spent almost a decade in the Distance Learning programme, said they met all the requirements for graduation but that their results are allegedly being delayed by lecturers over non-payment of remunerations.
One of the affected students, Uche George described how what was ordinarily supposed to be a five-year programme is now running into a decade, adding that it might be a calculated attempt to further exploit students.
“I started this programme around 2008. Yet I’m told that my name was not among those that recently graduated. They still want me to be paying all sorts of charges to the university, is that not a rip-off?” he queried.
George, who described the behaviour of lecturers that are allegedly holding on to students’ results as ‘sheer wickedness’, said the delays in graduating from the university has left him in a limbo with valuable opportunities being missed.
“I would have used the degree to move to the next level of my career last year,” he said. “Even this year, during the recent convocation, I was told I could not graduate because some lecturers failed to release my results over claims that the university failed to pay them. But I paid my school fees.”
George’s dilemma is not unique. Hundreds of other students continue to experience such inexplicable delays. And many of them have lodged complaints after complaints with the authorities and had even threatened to disrupt the recent convocation to force the school to act, to no avail.
For its part, the university’s administration under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Michael Adikwu, seems helpless over the issue, especially because the VC is relatively new: he assumed office barely two years ago–in June 2014, to be precise.
However, this has not stopped the Vice Chancellor from wielding the big stick as the Director of the Centre of Distance Learning (CDL) programme of the university was recently booted out of office.
A source told The AUTHORITY that the decision was to give Prof. Adikwu full control of the institution’s finances as the CDL is the cash-cow of the university.
The Vice Chancellor has also taken a step further by initiating a probe into the activities of the Centre, with the incessant complaints by the students about ‘unnecessary delays’ in the handling of their affairs forming part of the terms of references.
In an interview with Campus, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Adikwu promised to address the challenges that the centre has been confronted with.
“I must let you know that the issue with the CDL is a very complex one,” he said. “The way it has been run in the past is what has brought in the complexity. In the past, the staff teaching in CDL were not being paid so their claims accumulated and are being cleared slowly.
“That has the tendency to cause the staff to do things that are unorthodox. I was also worried about the performance of the staff on the programme. When I sampled some of the papers, some of the things I saw were unbelievable. Because of this, I will have to do screening for this calibre of students so that we can get people that are actually qualified to run the course.
“Where people just sit at home and want to get a certificate without working for it will also make them to do things that are also unorthodox. I was told that the papers for CDL were locked up for two years and that has pulled us back. There are those taking courses without physical files when they registered years ago. We are just cleaning up those things now and it is fairly complex.”
With its head office located in Garki-Area 3, Abuja, many had hoped that the Centre, which a few years ago regained the NUC approval for the resumption of some of its programmes, would be steered away from any new crisis.
But the Distance Learning programme was not spared of the travails which plunged UNIABUJA into a major accreditation crisis in 2013 and the subsequent distribution of some of its regular students to other universities. Following the ban on some of the regular courses, the Centre was unable to admit students for three sessions while the study centres it had opened in some states across the country could not take off to the great disappointment of many prospective students who had procured the forms for the programme.
According to the Centre’s websites, the CDL and CE programmes, which attract school fees ranging from N40,000 to N70,000 per session, run for four or five years depending on entry qualifications. The mode of study is mainly through on-line course delivery, multi-media resources, audio-visual materials, (CDs, DVDs, Disk drive), among others.
Learning facilitation is also said to be carried out on “our robust Learning Management System (L.M.S) where our seasoned lecturers await you for facilitations, assessments and discussions as required of them.”
“This is a replica of face-to-face classroom lectures in our conventional classrooms but enhanced using technologies as required by National Universities Commission (NUC),” the Centre added.