The Vice Chancellor of the Skyline University Nigeria, Prof. P.K Biswas in a chat with the university’s media and communications unit highlighted the institution mission in the nation’s education sector and other related matters. Excepts…
Q: What is the concept of Skyline University Nigeria?
A: Skyline University Nigeria has been established based on 28 years of experience of Skyline University College, Sharjah. Skyline International Group Limited (SIGL) started the Skyline University College in 1990 under the patronage of His Highness, Sheik, Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qassimi, who was the ruler of Sharjah and a member of the Supreme Council of United Arab Emirates (UAE).
SUC has gained global acceptance since its inception for its quality education. Based on that experience we wanted to bring quality education to Nigeria because we realized that in the North East and North West of Nigeria we don’t have too many quality tertiary educational institutions. Mostly you find good institutions and universities in the South East and South West of Nigeria.
Therefore, we thought that it is a good time to invest in a good and international university to impart quality education so that the people of this region are not deprived of quality education. Please remember that Kano is one of the topmost commercial centres in Nigeria. Unfortunately, despite its rich natural resources, it does not have that kind of good tertiary educational institutions. For example in Kano State, we have very few good universities. There was no top class private university. Private universities bring a lot of investment. They also bring a lot of quality inputs. Therefore our intention is to provide quality education with committed, dedicated and qualified professors and other professionals. That is the concept of Skyline University Nigeria.
What are the immediate challenges here and possible solutions?
A: The challenge for us is that people are so used to state and federal universities. Suddenly, the concept of private university does not appeal to the people in this region. But we are trying to tell the people that private university brings with it a lot of innovations and creativity which will facilitate entrepreurship. The focus of this country is to produce a lot of entrepreneurs. As you know in Nigeria, unemployment is quite high. As the unemployment is so high, you cannot have adequate jobs in the government sector.
Secondly, private investors are not too many and they cannot absorb too many people. So which is better of these two? It is to provide the platform where you can create a lot of entrepreneurs and keeping that philosophy in mind, we have highlighted we would focus in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship based on technology. These days if you cannot deal with technology then you are gone. Unless you update your knowledge base and connect to the global perspective you cannot impart quality education.
With your experience in academics, what are your plans for Skyline University Nigeria?
A: The basic idea is to have a university, a modern university and an international university with multi-cultural, multi-lingua and multi-faceted faculty drawn from different nationalities if we want to make it a really global standard university. Also our aim is to become the number one not only in Nigeria but in Africa. In due course, we want to be known as an international university which focused on research, which created a lot of entrepreneurs. All our curriculum will make it compulsory for students to do internship or project work. They must be exposed to the industry because students who are passing out or graduating from Skyline University Nigeria must be ready for the industry requirements. Therefore we want to have close ties and relationships with all industries. We have made it compulsory in almost every course to expose students to industry situations. That is our uniqueness which is not there in many of the universities in this part of the world.
What opportunities are there for Skyline University Nigeria to operate at national stage in short and medium term and global stage in future?
A: You see I have come from India which is a much larger country with a lot of challenges. But there are lot of quality educational institutions both in public and private. For example in Nigeria, currently we have 198 million population and in another 25 or 30 years from now we would have up to 411 million population as projected by the United Nations statistics.
With a lot of people around, we do not have adequate access to good tertiary education. Quality tertiary education is the need of the day. We have started with undergraduate programmes initially. In the initial three or four years we will do undergraduate programmes. We have started with only two schools as approved by the National Universities Commission (NUC) – School of Arts, Management and Social Sciences and the other is School of Science and Information Technology. We had 15 programmes to start with.
We must understand the country like Nigeria and we must focus on science. So if you see the distribution of the programmes, science programmes are almost 60% and others are 40%.
In keeping with the philosophy of Nigeria, we are giving more attention to science programmes. But in due course of time we will also go for law, legal studies, medicine, engineering, architecture and others. We have a long term plan of 20 years. Also we intend to build a very big university campus spanning across about 250 acres of land.
We want to be known for quality education not only in Nigeria but in entire Africa. We are focusing on Nigeria initially because we want to see that students of this country benefit first then of course in Africa in general. If you look at world ranking and other things, Africa is behind so we would like to change that paradigm and see that this institution is ranked well in Africa and globally. That is our long term plan.
We will also go for post graduate programmes and PhD. I have seen at Vice Chancellors’ Conference a lot of discussions and concern about shortage of quality faculty. There is shortage of quality faculty because there is not enough post graduate studies and PhD. So we would like to create that kind of situation where you can produce quality faculty.
What are the scholarship opportunities available for students at Skyline University Nigeria?
A: Yes, we have realised that not many meritorious students may be poor and may not be able to afford our fees. So we have introduced merit basis scholarship.
Our marketing department will provide further details on what kind of benefits and how much scholarship can be given to the meritorious students.
We have realized it may be difficult for some and we do not want to deprive anybody of this opportunity of quality education. So we are approaching various consulates, corporate bodies and big industrialists who can sponsor poor but meritorious students. We are giving them bulk scholarships depending on the number of students available so that they can increase in their own constituency certain people who are not able to afford quality education.
Finally, what is your vision for Skyline University Nigeria in the next five years?
A: I want Skyline University Nigeria to be known as international university in Africa. It should also be known for creativity, innovations and emphasis on entrepreneurship.