A varsity’s glorious journey thus far
The take-off of AU in 2011was considered an added boost to the prestige of the ancient town of Ede that is situated some 10 minutes’ drive from the capital city of Osun State, Osogbo. This is given the fact that, before now, Ede has been host to a number of high profile institutions like the Federal Polytechnic; the Redeemers Missions College; a private College of Education in an advanced stage of commencement of operations amongst a host of others. Later, the Redeemers University (RUN) recently in 2014 re-located from Lagos and added another boost to the prestige of this town.
The University’s temporary site shares boundaries with the proposed Osogbo International Airport currently under construction by the state government.
It was however a modest beginning at infancy for AU with a student population of 380 and ateaching Staff strength of some 27 spread across the three initial Faculties approved for its take-off. Nonetheless, the facilities on ground at its temporary site have been quite imposing to say the least. The location is serene and helmed in by a security fence and it is patrolled on a twenty-four basis by a resident private security outfit.
Almost fourty per cent of Academic and Non-Teaching Staff members reside on-campus. This includes also 100 per cent of the students’ population who are officially required to stay on-campus. Compulsory residency on campus is an official requirement after admission. However, provisions are also made to grant permissions to only marriedstudents wishing to stay off-campus upon their applications through their Heads of Departments and Faculty Deans to Management. In such instances, intending students are required to justify their requests based on valid proofsto back their claims.
AU is a faith-based institution. Consequently, the requirements for compulsory student residency have been predicated on the dire need to provide the right spiritual and learning ambience to be able to mold AU students in accordance with the University’s motto: Education, Excellence and Character. Be that as it may, AU also prides itself as a liberal institution that is ready to create space for other alternative religious views to flourish within the campus, provided these do not conflict with the primary Sabatharian idealsthat constitute its fundamental tenements of faith.
In line with its ideals, AU has over the years been able to deliver on its commitments right from inception to provide sterling pedagogy and heavenly-bound character molding and tutelage for its students. Consequently, Management has placed a high premium on the recruitment of highly qualified Academic Staff with emphasis on the possession of the minimum of a PhD Degree for all disciplines. Academic Staff who joined the University with Masters Degrees in their various fields of studies have been assisted over the years through its Staff Development policy to enroll for the Doctoral programme in other sister Universities. Four years on, most of them are at the terminal phases of their studies.
Currently, over 60 per cent of Academics at AU hold PhD degrees in a wide range of academic disciplines. In the same vein, AU demands the best from its students by raising the threshold of its academic grading from the traditional 70 per cent to 80 per cent grade for ‘As’ and 45 per cent for the ‘D’ grade as the lowest any student can score to pass any course. This translates to mean that all First Class and indeed other levels of Graduates of AU trump their compeers anywhere in Nigeria today where the traditional academic grading threshold subsists.
Also to assist other academics and students in their research endeavours, the University currently maintains a twenty-four hours Wi-Fi Internet connectivity that is accessible to both Staff and Students. There are also a series of high-tech Laboratories and Workshops of international standards in the areas of: Microbiology; Chemistry; Physics; Computer Programming and Hardware/Software Designs; Engineering-based disciplines – Chemical, Civil Engineering, Electrical/Electronics/Computer Engineering.
Other areas include Health Sciences; Econometrics; Accounting; Mute Court for the B.Sc. Political Science and Law programmes; and a state-of the arts ICT Centre in partnership with New Horizons outfit. There is also a Library with over 3,965 books and journal entries in its holdings and an E-Library section that currently boasts of over 2,000 books and Journal entries in a wide range of academic disciplines – especially those offered in the University’s curriculum.
Because staff and students are largely resident on-campus, in its temporary site, ample facilities are also in place for their off-hour relaxations. Just at the entrance of this premise is an imposing structure used for the University’s central worship and other official and social events requiring large crowd. Behind this structure is a large swimming pool and a Lawn Tennis Court used for relaxation and fitness exercises by both staff and students during the off-hour periods – mostly during the weekends.
Students are housed in two separate giant hostel facilities –one dedicated to male students and the other to the female students. Hall Administrators are on duty on a twenty-four basis to carter for the welfare needs of the students. A large luster green field lies just between the classroom area and the hostels.
This facility is used for sporting activities by both staff and students during the off-hours. Adjoining these hostel facilities is another giant structure used for the University’s cafeteria. A Staff canteen lies just at the corner of this structure in another building that houses a modest shopping mall fitted with a standard supermarket, a hair salon, a boutique and a crèche facility for toddlers where Staff members can drop-off their kids for special day care services while on duty. In the same vicinity, lies a min-rotunda bar that serves soft drinks, barbecue, grills, fries and snacks to both staff and students during the day from 7 am and up till 11 pm in the evenings.
The temporary site glows in its glistering glamour on a twenty-four hour basis. It is powered by series of giant stand-alone electricity generators scattered around the campus. They act as back-up sources of power supplies in instances of power outages from the public lines. Recently, since construction works started in earnest at the University’s permanent site at the Ologobiarea of Ede, there has been a general up-grade of the University’s cumulative asset facilities. At the permanent site, thirteen new physical structures are currently in various stages of advanced completion. These include a state-of the art Senate building that bestraddle entrance into the new site; an ultra-modern state of the art University cafeteria with an estimated sitting capacity of over two thousand students; office buildings for the Faculties of Arts, Business and Social Sciences, Science, Health Sciences, Engineering and Law.
There is also a giant building that house a 500 setter-theatre for the proposed Performing Arts programme, including classrooms and staff offices.The first convocation ceremonyis slated to hold here at the permanent site on September 6, 2015.
Given the foregoing trends captured above, no one is left in doubt as to the zeal and philanthropic commitments of the University’s founder and Pro-Chancellor, Dr. AdedejiAdeleke in pursuing to its fruition a personal dream in the last four years to bring quality and affordable education to the reach of millions of Nigerians – especially those who by any default may not be able to have access to it. That AU is currently ranked amongst the lowest fee paying private Universities in Nigeria today is no vain saying. It currently charges an all-inclusive N599, 500 for all fresh intakes admitted into the Degree programmes save for the Faculties of Law and Engineering where it charges N830,500 and N741,500 respectively.
These charges include Tuition, Accommodation, Feeding and Medicals. The University Management has also made provisions for payments of four installments of these fees as a way to humanely lighten the financial burdens on both students and their parents.
A further breakdown of the University fees however show that on the average, each student is charged a paltry N56,700 or N113,000 for feeding per Semester or per Session respectively! The first installment is due at the take-off of the first Semester and followed by the second installment due at the beginning of the First Semester Examination season. The third and fourth installments are repeated same periods during the Second Semester.
Another good news is that, all students are qualified to apply for scholarshipawards from the philanthropy arm of the Pro-Chancellor’s conglomerate – the Spring Time Development Foundation. Suitable applicants are assessed based on whether they are indigent or have special constraints or challenges that may mar their quest for a world-class University education. Over the years, at least a quarter of the students’ population have benefitted from this philanthropic largesse offered by the Pro-Chancellor.
On the part of staff members of the University, there subsists a policy on Staff and family Development where Staff members are offered about 70per cent rebate on the costs of their post-graduate studies in other sister Universities. For family members who have children or wards admitted into the University, the University also offers 50 per cent rebate on school fees so as to lighten the burden on the parents of such students. The University also has in place a robust Staff pension scheme where it remits on a monthly basis a given percentage into the pension accounts of staff members including their voluntary monthly deductions from their salaries as required by the law. Given all these arrangements in place over the years, AU has recorded perhaps one of the lowest Staff turn-over anywhere in Nigerian Universities till date.
In any case, because of the high premium placed on Staff Welfare, academic development and the enabling academic ambience provided by the Management, academics at AU have also excelled in their various fields of studies with many of them winning sundry awards as testimonies to this claim.
Notably, Mrs. Jesuminure of the Department of Mass Communication recently won two academic grants from the Social Science research Council and the Young African Scholars award offered by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation to enable her pursue a Doctoral Degree programme here in a sister University in Nigeria. This adds up to Mr. AdekunleBamigbade from the Department of Basic Sciences who won a prestigious Third World Academy Scholarship for a Doctoral programme in China. This list also includes Professor Olumide Longe, who was a recent recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Award as well as the Fulbright Fellowship.
Professor Longe is also a Fellow of the African Scientific Institute in the USA since 2013 and has also been conferred with an Award of Excellence for Innovation, Mentoring and Selfless contributions to the Global Academics and Research Community in 2015 by the Research Nexus Africa Group. Much earlier on, Professor IbikunleTijani has also won the First Asante Award for Distinguished Research at the University of Georgia, USA. This is in addition to being elected as one of the scientific members of the International Labour organization. He is also a recipient of the UNESCO’s General Labour History of Africa Awards.
Other high points in the historical evolution of AU include a National University Commission’s (NUC) Accreditation for all 13programmesoffered in the University at its recent accreditation exercise in May 2015. Also, AU was granted Full License to operate as a registered University by NUC early in August 2015. It was amongst one of the youngest University to have received such an endorsement by this body in the history of University education in Nigeria. The University was also granted permission by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to float a Computer Based Test (CTB) Centre where for the first time, some 4,500 prospective candidates for admission into Nigerian Universities where successfully processed in February 2015.
It is on record that this Centre was acclaimed as one of the best in Osun State by JAMB. Given the premium also placed in computer-based studies, the University Management recently floated the ICT Solution and Entrepreneurship Centre in partnership with New Horizon This Centre takes charge of provision of secretarial, computer maintenance, repairs and Web services for the benefit of both Staff and Students. Also since February 2015, a pilot Radio/Television training outfit has been added on board at the temporary site. It is dedicated to the training of students from the Department of Mass Communication in broadcast journalism.
Thus, looking back to the last four years, one can conveniently conclude here without any equivocations that, the story of AU is one that resounds with numerous successes and these could not have been made possible without the blessings of the Almighty God, the hard work, dedication of AU’s founder and Pro-chancellor, and to whom both Staff and Students of AU owe eternal gratitude to be part of this resounding success story.
Dr. Ighovie D’ Leone, formerly of The Guardian Foreign Desk, is Head, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Adeleke University Ede, Osun State.