The Ban On Online Degrees In Nigeria | Independent Newspapers Limited
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The Ban On Online Degrees In Nigeria

Posted: Aug 3, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent decision by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to ban online Universities and other degree awarding institution operating online seems not well thought out and needs to be redressed. It has the propensity to setback our education system in a world that is increasingly becoming digitalised. According to the Director, Information and Public Relations of NUC, Ibrahim Usman Yakassi, degrees obtained online are, henceforth, not acceptable in the country.

No doubt NUC’s decision is based on the fact that there are a lot of illicit and fraudulent activities that take place online, which cast doubts on the credibility of available online University degree programmes. In fact, it is not in doubt that there are many of these programmes that are either not genuine or lacking in requisite standards. Unfortunately, the effect ostensibly resonates on the overall standard of education that students who petronise these online institutions acquire, which is not good for the already dwindling standard of education in the country.

Nevertheless, although the inherent hazards that may be adduced from petronising online degree programmes by the NUC could be plausible, this newspaper believes that the decision is a bit hasty and amounts to subjugating that aspect of learning, especially when the available higher institutions in the country do not have the capacity to absorb the huge number of applicants seeking University education opportunities in the country. Indeed, there are concerns that an outright ban on online degree programmes in Nigeria is akin to ‘throwing away the baby with the bath water.’

This development is even more worrisome, considering it is coming at a time online degree programmes are increasingly becoming a global trend and Nigeria should not be left behind in this regard. As a matter of fact, there is a preponderance of great minds and personalities even here in Nigeria who never acquired their Universities degrees through classroom contact but by correspondence. The Lateef Jakundes, the Afe Babalolas, just to mention but a few. The achievements of these individuals in their various fields of endeavour indicate that online programmes can be, not just an option of education, but also a veritable method of learning.

Besides, online University courses are fundamentally a version of education in correspondence which has been known to be cost effective as it provides provisional study materials in electronic, encrypted version, which is much cheaper in production, recreation and distribution for being in virtual softcopy. Moreover, it is the working class in government and private establishments that choose such learning options most, considering that they provide and afford them the opportunity to acquire such degrees while working. The truth is that apart from the rigidity of attending regular institutional classes, online courses do not encumber those who patronise them even within suggestive education, as students do not have to move physically to restrictive environments to get degrees. The issue here does not suggest whether or not online degree programmes are better than the regular classroom contact version, but it is an option, which should be strengthened and developed in line with global trend.

Rather than an outright ban, what it requires is quality control. We urge the NUC to extend its regulatory tentacles to these online Institutions by putting measures in place to streamline their operations. Let those credible online institutions continue to be patronised. Perhaps, a department of the NUC can be set up to monitor the quality of such programmes and control them to ensure they are genuine and standards  maintained.