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With loan initiative, Nigerian students can compete with world’s best – Gbajabiamila

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief of Staff to President Bola Tinubu, Femi Gbajabiamila believes with the take off of the Students’ Loan Scheme initiative in January, 2024, Nigerian students would compete with the best in the world.

Gbajabiamila who made the assertion during the Convocation Lecture of Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) on Saturday, said the Tinubu administration was putting every effort and would ensure that Nigerian students access the loans to fund their educational aspirations.

“The student loan system answers part of the question of how to fund a quality public tertiary education but doesn’t answer all of it,” he said.

“Any serious conversation about the future of tertiary education in Nigeria must include thoroughly considering the ways and means of addressing the funding needs of public tertiary institutions beyond government subvention.

“The application system for the student loan programme is being designed so that there is no interface between the loan administrators and the beneficiaries. Applicants will apply online, be verified online, and be credited based on the verifiable documents and credentials they have submitted.

“Nobody will need to know anybody to qualify for these loans, so that access to this financing will be genuinely egalitarian.

“In this regard, we cannot for much longer avoid the simple truth that tertiary education costs money, and the best institutions worldwide succeed, amongst other things, because they can generate significant sums through fees, investments, and other means.

“The simple truth is that for our institutions to compete favourably, we need more resources than are currently available to address the dangerous decline in the quality of scholarship and academic output and the graduates we produce from many of our institutions.

“And our learning centers will be majestic citadels of research and innovation, open to all who seek knowledge, regardless of means. But this is not a perfect world. In this real world, education is a commodity, and a quality education even more so.

“Therefore, the central public policy challenge is the conflict between the competing objectives of access and quality.

“How do we fund a quality tertiary education without imposing costs that make access to quality education impossible for most people?

“We require a programme of aggressive and sustained investment in education. Not only in the physical infrastructure of classrooms and lecture halls but in technology hardware and software to facilitate information exchange and innovation.

“In this new world we have found ourselves in, nothing has changed as drastically as the nature of work and how we measure productivity. Today, many skills that guarantee employment and a healthy income for previous generations have been made redundant by technological advances.”

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