Degree Conversion: Top-up Scheme Beyond Your Jurisdiction, NBTE Replies NUC

The National Board for Technical Education has cleared the air over its proposed “Top-Up” degree programme in foreign offshore accredited universities for Nigerian graduates of the Higher National Diploma in polytechnics, saying the initiative is entirely “beyond the jurisdiction of the National Universities Commission.”

The Executive Secretary NBTE, Professor Idris Bugaje, stated this in a letter to the Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman, in response to questions bordering on the newly initiated HND Top-Up programme using offshore credit transfer admission, a statement by the board’s Spokesperson, Fatima Abubakar, said Monday morning.

The PUNCH on Saturday reported that the NUC, in a strongly worded statement, urged the NBTE to stay put on its plan to introduce degree conversion programmes for HND graduates of Nigerian polytechnics.

NUC’s Acting Executive Secretary, Chris Maiyaki, in the statement, had noted that the NBTE was acting beyond its mandate.

Earlier, this newspaper had reported that the NBTE announced a partnership with foreign universities where HND graduates could convert their diplomas to degrees through a one-year conversion course, following the dichotomy which had continued to exist between graduates of universities and polytechnics.

According to Bugaje, HND holders who chose to pursue an academic career at the moment had no progression path, except through the postgraduate diploma adding that anytime they wished to switch to universities as lecturers after their Ph.D., they were always queried to produce their first degree.

Proffering a lasting solution to the HND–BSc crisis, therefore, Bugaje had implored the minister to convince President Bola Tinubu to sign the Anti-Dichotomy Bill into law, assuring that it would bring an end to the unwarranted and undeserved discrimination against HND holders in Nigeria.

The statement further noted that the ‘top-up’ or ‘credit transfer admissions’ by foreign universities were being mooted as an alternative to the PGD while also quoting media reports that six Nigerian universities indicated interest in joining the conversion programme, but were denied their request by the Board because the “NUC may not give them approval.”

The statement further quoted the letter written by the board’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Idris Bugaje, to the minister of education, Prof. Tahir Mamman.

The letter read in part: “I write to update you on the media response last week of the National Universities Commission of Nigeria to an NBTE-initiated progression for HND holders through the Top-Up program in foreign (offshore) accredited universities.

“Only the FME Division of Evaluation and Accreditation has the power to assess the foreign degrees after the students have graduated and may seek that.

“NBTE only provides HND Curricula content for credit mapping and eventual credit transfer admissions. The admissions are made by foreign universities, and their Senates make awards of degrees, not NBTE. In fact, the entire process is designed to operate seamlessly without NBTE.

“NBTE also has no financial benefit in the whole exercise, though we requested low tuition of a maximum of about 10% of regular fees since course delivery is online”.

Speaking further, the NBTE noted that NUC, from its press release, seemed to dislike online programmes, “attempting to take us back to the 20th Century.”

The NBTE noted that online programmes were “today a globally accepted mode of Education delivery, especially in the 21st Century. Nigerian educational policy has accommodated that with an Open University approved by the Federal Government and NBTE-approved Open Distance Flexible and e-Learning Centres being operated by 36 Polytechnics at the moment, and the number is growing.”

The NBTE further hailed products of Nigerian polytechnics and cautioned the NUC against “further” discrimination against HND graduates.

“Nigerian HNDs are much respected globally. Many European countries give them direct admissions for Masters. Last year, a shining example was Miss Islamiyat Ojelade, HND Distinction in Science Lab Technology (Biochemistry) graduate from the Federal Polytechnic Ilaro, who last year received PhD admissions and Scholarships from seven top US Universities without the BSc. and not even MSc. Let us, therefore, start respecting our HNDs here at home and stop this discrimination by NUC and others with this mindset”, the board said.