Education

UNILAG, German, UK varsities partner on ‘change project’

  • UNILAG, other Nigerian institutions to benefit from project

PARTNERSHIP

The University of Lagos (UNILAG) and some European institutions are partnering to build symbiotic relationships that will address contemporary issues of renewable energy solutions for alternative power supply to the university, and advance research works on artificial intelligence, among others

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Worried by the rising cost of electricity and the attendant consequences, among other reasons, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, has led a team of management staff to launch a new collaborative initiative with some European universities.

 

Tagged: “Partnership for Change,” the initiative is aimed at collaboratively providing renewable energy solutions for alternative power supply for the university and beyond; advance research works on artificial intelligence, medical interventions and entrepreneurial innovations, especially in the technology sector

 

When in 2017 he declared his intention to vie for the office of the Vice-Chancellor of the 60-year-old university, Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, a Professor of Botany and the then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Research), pledged to turn around the research fortunes in the ivory tower and provide a lasting solution to the perennial electricity crisis, the university has been grappling with over the years.

 

Prof. Ogundipe, whose passion for research must have also earned him the position as the Chairman of the Research Council in Lagos State, has under his administration in just three years attracted more than N18 billion in research grants  an achievement which has been unrivalled and unprecedented in the university.

 

Despite, one challenge his administration is yet to combat is the energy crisis, which the Vice- Chancellor has consistently noted, constitutes a major clog in the wheel of his desired dream for the university.

Speaking on the electricity challenges confronting the university with attendant several millions of naira spent monthly on electricity bills and buying of diesel to power the generators, Ogundipe had told New Telegraph: “But, we would have also gone far in this too, but the peculiarity of our system in the country has impacted us negatively.

 

Apart from the internal crisis we suffered, the global coronavirus pandemic also crippled activities across the world. “And when we thought everything was over and that we could reclaim some of the lost opportunities, the strike by the various staff unions commenced. It is unfortunate.”

 

Meanwhile, unfazed by the many challenges, the Vice-Chancellor vowed not to leave office in November,    without providing a solid foundation towards addressing the power crisis on campus.

 

And this, according to the Director of the University’s Office of International Relations, Partnerships and Prospects, Ismail Ibraheem, was the basis for initiating a collaborative project with some European universities.

Ibraheem, a Professor of Mass Communication, said the initiative, which is tagged: “Partnership for Change,” is aimed at “collaboratively providing renewable energy solutions for alternative power supply for the university and beyond; advance research works on artificial intelligence, medical interventions and entrepreneurial innovations, especially in the technology sector.”

 

Championed by the university, Prof. Ibraheem said with the support of the Nigeria’s Consulate Office in Frankfurt, Germany and other major stakeholders, as well as reputable universities in Germany and Scotland successfully launched the initiative.

 

He said apart from UNILAG and the existing European university-members, more Nigerian academic institutions and their counterparts globally would be brought on board for the project.

 

However, the Vice-Chancellor said the foreign counterparts have jumped at the opportunity because the university “did not walk into the arrangement emptyhanded,” even as he stated that the initiative would be mutually beneficial and not parasitic.

 

“This is the only way we can address the challenges that confront us as a people. And, apart from collaboratively solving the challenges, the partnership will also considerably improve our global ranking score,” Ogundipe added. On the partnership details, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Development Services, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, who superintends the university’s Partnership Office, and in her presentations at the meetings, a copy of which    New Telegraph obtained, gave the university’s student enrollment statistics as 62,215.

 

She said that the University of Lagos has 12 faculties, six institutes and 26 centres, while the institution runs 88 undergraduate and 129 postgraduate academic programmes.

The Professor of Law and former Dean of the Faculty of Law, said the UNILAG is fully prepared for the partnership, and flaunted some of its many concluded and ongoing research works such as cassava concrete mixture for building, ambuvent medical ventilator and vehicular road advanced electronic flood caution device, among others.

 

She said: “We are encouraged to champion this partnership having experienced the significant impacts of other similar collaborations such as those under the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), UMOJA and AFROPEAN Global. “Our artificial intelligence and fab laboratories, the UNILAG-BOI business incubation hub, and the NITDA ICT hub, are in need of meaningful partnerships for exposure and knowledge sharing.”

She, however, added that the partnership is aimed at building a global community of shared future through student and staff exchange programmes, running of joint degrees and programmes, curriculum development, and that members would jointly host conferences and research collaborations regularly.

 

“Our entrepreneurial centre is one of the best around, but we must endorse continental collaborations to achieve greater impacts and exposure for students and staff,” Atsenuwa said. Meanwhile, Professor Ibraheem, the Director of the partnership office, said at different meetings which were held at the Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany and neighbouring Mainz City, the University of Applied Sciences, Mainz; Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz; Schmalkalden University of Applied Sciences, Schmalkalden, and University of Münster, Münster, hosted the UNILAG team. Ibraheem explained that the representatives of the Johannes Gutenberg University, which houses the global COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing giant- Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech), expressed commitment to the partnership.

He said the institutions also pledged knowledge transfer among staff and students, adding that the Mayor of Schmalkalden, Thomas Kaminski, pointed out that the community as a host to a university and some small scale industries, are building green energy solutions and would be glad to partner Nigerian researchers.

 

According to him, the Mayor also expressed his readiness to ensure knowledge transfer among concerned experts, and that the renewable energy solution being worked on will significantly address the issue of ozone layer depletion and the attendant consequences.

 

Ibraheem further said that the new initiative would also make power affordable, especially for the university communities where uninterrupted power supply is much a prerequisite.

A statement by the partnership office quoted the Mayor to have said: “We are a small town but one blessed with talents to build livable societies. Nigeria also has its strengths, especially in human and natural resources; we must combine our knowledge to make our communities habitable for our people.”

 

Other universities, especially, University of Applied Science in Mainz, said it was interested in introducing double degree programmes in partnership with UNILAG, among other qualified Nigerian universities.

 

The programmes, which will be taught physically on the two campuses, will, according to the university, also offer the beneficiaries an opportunity to receive stipends through the German government’s scholarship scheme.

 

Meanwhile, the Director said the UNILAG team also met with the management of some Scottish universities, including University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow.

He said at the University of Aberdeen, the UNILAG team was received by the Principal/Vice Chancellor, George Boyne, a Professor and the Vice Principal/Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, Alan Speight, a professor, among other officials.

 

There were presentations on Science and Technology, Energy, Environment and Entrepreneurship research, among other fields.

 

Other UNILAG team on the trip, apart from the trio of Professors Ogundipe, Atsenuwa and Ibraheem, were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Research), Bola Oboh; Director UNILAG Distance Learning Institute (DLI), Professor Uchenna Udeani, and the Deputy Director of the Partnership Office, Dr. Mary Akinyemi, among others.

 

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