On his recent visit to Nigeria to attend the Pan Africa Writers Association General Assembly, the Vice-Chancellor of the International Open University (IOU), Dr Cherno Omar Barry, and the IOU Nigeria representative, Abdullah Akindele, met senior officials of the National Universities Commission (NUC) at the NUC conference room on the 5th floor of the secretariat in Abuja, Nigeria. The meeting was chaired by Dr Samuel Onazi, Director of Finance and Accounting, who represented the Federal Minister of Education and the Executive Secretary of the NUC. Both of whom were in Paris attending a meeting at UNESCO. Also in attendance were the Director of Distance and Open Education, Eng. Kayode Odedina, the Chief Protocol Officer; Mr Sadiq Haruna, the Director of Research and other Directors.
Dr Barry presented the IOU issue to the officials present and requested them to inform him of the steps to be taken to ensure that the Commission recognises the International Open University. Dr Barry explained that the IOU is recognised by the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority, and its programmes are being accredited already. He further informed them that as an entirely online university, many students worldwide have registered with the IOU, initially, only for the pleasure of learning. Nigeria has the biggest number of registered students on the continent but the gradates find it difficult to be integrated into the Nigeria work force. He reminded the team that the Gambia shares with Ngeria the same sub-regional body, the same Commonwealth and the same education system.
In response to the request, Dr Samuel stated that the Nigerian Government had not recognised a fully online education because of the issues surrounding it. Thus, IOU could not be recognised for now in Nigeria. After that, he requested Mr Odedina to present the 6-Models developed by the NUC for transnational education to the IOU delegates at the meeting. Out of the 6 models, only two apply to the International Open University:
a. Open and distance learning
This model requires IOU students to travel to the Gambia for a year and attend face-to-face lectures there.
b. Teaching institution
This model requires IOU to collaborate with an existing university in Nigeria (there must be a bilateral relationship between the institutions). The institution will act as the face of IOU in Nigeria by jointly establishing degrees and other programs which must comply with the rules and regulations of the NUC. The programs’ curricula must be vetted and approved by the NUC before launching them. Eligibility criteria for the programs must conform to those approved by the NUC.
At the end of the meeting, Dr Barry thanked them for providing the information needed to ensure that IOU becomes an officially recognised institution in Nigeria and promised to work on a model out of the two models which suit IOU educational system.