DVC Reflects on International Linkages with UK Universities
“Aspiring to be one of the best 10 universities in the world is not a local thing, it is not a national thing, it is a global thing,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Professor Taiwo Abioye, remarked when she shared about her visit to Lancaster University and East London University, UK.
As Covenant University (CU) continues to move towards the realisation of Vision 10:2022; to be one of the top ten universities by 2022, internationalisation has become a key area of strategic development within the University. Student exchange programmes and academic trips provide an excellent opportunity for faculty, staff and students alike to gain international experience and exposure, equipping them with a greater capacity to network, proffer solutions and raise standards. Over the summer, a group of 10 students accompanied by Professor Taiwo Abioye, visited Lancaster University and East London University in the UK. The visit proved an excellent opportunity to strengthen CU’s international relations, glean from other institutions’ internationalisation policies, exchange ideas, and build awareness of what is happening in CU.
During the course of the three-week visit, Professor Abioye was involved in a number of meetings that purposed to exchange information and ideas relating to the universities’ internationalisation policies. Through the course of these meetings, CU’s scholarship programme became of particular interest to Lancaster University. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor took the opportunity to explain that there are a number of bodies offering scholarships to CU students; the proprietor base, David Oyedepo Foundation, Student Council and the Alumni Association. She explained the scholarship structure. “In order to encourage the students, if you are first class, the church will pay 100% of your school fees. If you are on 2.1, they will pay 75% of your fees. Students who are on 2.2 will have 50% of their fees paid.
One aspect of Lancaster University which inspired Professor Abioye was the robust nature of the Lancaster University Student Union (LUSU). LUSU, which is funded by charities, trusts, foundations and donations, serves a number of roles; one being that it assists students in starting their own businesses. Professor Abioye was impressed by the advice they gave students not to let the fear of failure prevent them from stepping out and starting their own business.
An aspect of the exchange programme which Professor Abioye felt the students benefited greatly from was the event management programme. “In Nigeria, when people think of event management, they think of booking a space for your event to take place and then having it decorated,” she remarked. At Lancaster University though, the event management programme was very comprehensive. Students were taught how to report on an event on both radio and television. They also learned about the role of social media in marketing and reporting on an event.
Many of the activities the students were involved in expanded their perspective and demonstrated practical applications. While at Lancaster University, the students were taken on a number of industry trips; one of which was to a local farm. Professor Abioye commented that students were able to discover the various aspects of managing a farm. Students realised the level of business management skills required to operate a successful farming business.
Professor Abioye narrated how she met a CU alumni student who was studying her Master’s in Electrical & Information Engineering at Lancaster University. She had the privilege of also meeting her supervisor who informed her that the student was doing very well and that she is in fact, the best student he has. “This shows that something good has been planted in her from Covenant University and this isn’t the only case we have. Other universities have students from CU and they are doing well,” she remarked. “There are CU students at different universities around the world studying and working in various fields, and doing well.”
An additional aspect arising from discussions with both Universities was the nature of future partnership with CU. The first aspect of the partnership between the Universities will be a discount for CU students who are attending East London or Lancaster University for their MSc programme. On top of this, there are many other areas of collaboration in which CU and East London and Lancaster Universities can explore.
As a prominent University in the community, it is expected that CU will have a significant impact on the surrounding area. Therefore, the Department of Political Science and International Relations is looking to organise seminars and training for our local government officials. When invited, the Lancaster and East London Universities have offered personnel to act as facilitators for these events.
Another aspect of collaboration relates to the training of teachers from Faith Academy and Kingdom Heritage Model schools, owned by the Covenant University’s Proprietor base. The Universities expressed their willingness to send out faculty to train teachers and to open up possible channels for secondary teachers in Faith Academy and Kingdom Heritage to complete UK training courses.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor touched on a number of other areas in which the Universities are seeking to work together. Some of these include areas of collaboration in Engineering for the development of distance learning infrastructure, areas of collaboration in the Department of Psychology and also Student Affairs.
“There is a lot of experience and examples that can be built upon even if we take a reverse technology approach,” Professor Abioye remarked when reflecting on her visit to Lancaster and East London Universities. “It was a highly beneficial experience for the students and the University.”
As Covenant University edges closer to achieving its vision to be one of the top 10 universities in the world by 2022, forming collaborations with well-establish and reputed international institutions remains crucial. It offers an opportunity to develop and enhance Covenant University’s capacity to provide students with a superior educational experience and to proffer research contributions that will make an indelible impact on the local community, the nation and beyond. It will also provide an invaluable opportunity for CU’s excellent developments and achievements, to be shared beyond our walls, providing opportunity for others to share in our success.