AN EXAMINATION OF THE QUALITY OF GRADUATES PRODUCED BY THE TERTIARY INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the study
Unemployment among tertiary-level graduates is a big issue in Nigeria at the present time. The fact is that thousands of students graduate each year from a wide range of educational schools with excellent or honorary degrees, yet many are unable to find work. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) (2010), unemployment in Nigeria is around 19.7 percent on average… and over half of 15-24 year olds residing in metropolitan areas are out of work…. Secondary-school graduates were claimed to constitute the largest proportion of the jobless, accounting for about 35 percent to 50 percent of the total; 40 percent of those between the ages of 20 and 24 years, and 31 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 19. Despite the fact that these numbers are flawed, they do not present a compelling tale.
Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, stated during a seminar on the theme: Youth, Employment Creation, and Shared Growth in Africa, which was held during the recently concluded African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings in Lisbon, Portugal, that most of the things students are taught in schools today are quite different from what is required in the labor market.
Consequently, the rate of development in Nigeria has been very sluggish as a result of this. The low rate of production has resulted in a sluggish pace of development for the company. Also cited as a contributing factor to the low pace of output is the ineptitude of recent university graduates. Questions have been raised as to why the situation is as it is. Some of the justifications advanced were as follows:
There are three key difficulties that the education sector in the nation is now dealing with, all of which are believed to be the root causes of the sub-poor sector’s performance. These difficulties include a continuous lecturers’ strike, which has resulted in a significant brain drain, a shortage of instructional facilities in schools, and inadequate budget.
Because of the enormous number of graduates, there are not enough job openings to accommodate them. In addition, graduates’ specializations do not correspond to the demands of Nigerian organizations.
As previously stated, the president emphasized the importance of directing university resources toward courses that will prepare graduates to be job creators rather than simply adding to the pool of unemployed youths in the labor market, stating that “we now need graduates who are problem solvers and job creators, and whose characters will be enviable and unimpeachable at all times.” This research is primarily focused with the most recent rationale that has been advanced.
Employers have complained that these graduates are ill-prepared for the workforce, according to reports. It is their belief that the quality of academic work has deteriorated over the last few decades and that their degrees no longer serve as a guarantee of communication skills or technical competency In order to establish whether or not these tertiary graduates are achieving the expectations of their employers, the goal of this research is to collect data from them. According to Andrew and colleagues (2000), there seems to be a significant imbalance between academic production and labor market demand. According to their results, the career prospects for fresh graduates have lately decreased in recent years. This is owing to the fragile state of the Nigerian economy, the policy environment, and a scarcity of qualified human resources, particularly in terms of the quality of the tertiary educated segment of the workforce, among other factors. There is a widespread belief among businesses that they are dissatisfied with the quality of graduates generated by educational schools and that they must constantly retrain them before they can be of use to their organizations. As a result, the purpose of this study is to assess if the quality of tertiary graduates is as poor as stated or as good as claimed. The findings of empirical study provide credence to this declining impression of quality.
According to reports, first generation Nigerian university graduates have a worse ranking on the “reputation” scale than their elders. These individuals expressed their belief that the quality of university education has deteriorated. Several studies have shown that people who graduated in the 1980s provided higher positive responses to questions about the availability of study materials than those who graduated in the 1990s, according to the findings of the studies. This demonstrates that there is a scarcity of study resources for the most recent generation of graduates. Several academic studies have discovered that graduates of Nigerian universities rate the quality of supervised practical work and academic advice they receive as extremely poor. A casual conversation with graduates in engineering, management, and the sciences reveals that just a small number of them find the majority of the ideas they study in school to be practical in their everyday work environments. Graduates, in particular, gave their education a poor rating when it came to the practical aspects. If this is the case, the school’s curriculum is no longer relevant.
At light of these results, it is clear that there is a significant disconnect between what is taught in colleges and what is required in the workplace. Stakeholders think that our educational system has a duty to offer graduates with the background and skills required to be successful in their chosen areas of endeavor. As a result, when companies are looking for graduates, they search for those who have graduated from schools that have curriculum that include new technologies and place an emphasis on contemporary practices. One of the approaches to accomplishing this goal is for academic staff members at Nigerian institutions of higher learning to have a genuine academic research focus. It is also a well-known truth that Nigerian public universities have large enrollments but a scarcity of trained teachers to accommodate them. Despite the fact that the majority of businesses are dissatisfied with the quality of graduates produced by Nigerian educational institutions in recent years, They are fully aware of the factors that have led to this situation. The quality of these graduates, according to many companies, is merely a reflection of the academic staff, learning resources (library, labs, etc.), and budget limits at the institutions of higher learning. Any increase in the quality of university graduates is dependent on finding a solution to the difficulties of staffing and retention. Staff quality is deteriorating, as shown by high rates of “brain drain,” a decrease in the number of professors and assistant professors at universities throughout the country, and a dip in the number of post-graduate students enrolled in universities. In the opinion of Andrew and colleagues (2000), the financial stability of universities is closely linked to the budgetary fortunes of the state.
The government budget has been in a state of instability for the last two decades. It is highly dependent on oil income, which have been volatile in recent years. Among the effects of insecure financing include inadequately equipped labs, out-of date libraries, poorly compensated faculty, deteriorating academic buildings, and a lack of significant research output, among other things. And these are the factors that will influence the overall quality of the graduates, whether in a favorable or bad way.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Politicians, educational stakeholders, and employers of labor (who are also the end consumers of the graduates’ services) have all called into question the quality of tertiary institution graduates on a number of occasions. The federal government is reportedly establishing a specific method to score each institution in the nation depending on the quality of their goods, notably in terms of the quality of their graduates and outputs, according to sources (Andrew, 2000). A high reliance on low technical expertise in the industrial sector, as well as the high rate of unemployment plaguing the nation’s economy, according to educational sub-sectors, can be attributed to the inability of Nigeria’s polytechnics and other tertiary institutions to produce the highly-sought technical manpower in the sub-sector sector. The issue is that graduates’ performances are of poor quality as a result of their lack of technical ability, and as a result, they fail to meet the expectations of their employers. Many believe that institutions must take a more proactive approach to their responsibilities, particularly in terms of reaching out to industries that will meet their needs, in order for graduates from the nation’s universities and polytechnics to be more effectively utilized by the industrial sector. In view of the above, education experts have recommended that Nigeria’s educational system be completely overhauled. If success is to be reached in this respect, they believe that the country must undertake several key responsibilities such as obtaining and applying global knowledge and developing new information on a regional level. All of these are indicators of high quality. By investing in human capital to increase their ability to absorb and apply information, as well investing in technology that aid both the acquisition and absorption of knowledge, we may achieve similar results (Andrew, 2000).
It is necessary to determine which elements contribute to this quality and to determine if the complaint is valid or invalid. The sort of training they get has a significant impact on the quality of their work. Their quality will suffer if they are not properly trained, but their quality will improve if they are given enough instruction and supervision.
1.3 Objective of the study
The general objective of the study is to examine the quality of graduates produced by the tertiary institutions in Nigeria :
- To examine the quality level of graduates from tertiary institution in Nigeria.
- To find out factors influencing quality of university education programmes
- To investigate if quality assurance factors affect graduates’ employability
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions have been prepared for the study:
- What is the quality level of graduates from tertiary institution in Nigeria?
- What are the factors influencing quality of university education programmes?
- Does quality assurance factors affect graduates’ employability?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The importance of this study cannot be overemphasized, seeing that it has so much to do with the graduates who will determine the rate of development of the country. Since Harbison (1973) said they are the ones who constitute the ultimate basis for the wealth of the nation.
This study is therefore concerned with determining the quality of tertiary graduates. This can be determined by the perceptions of their employers which will help to decide if the given training is adequate or not. After all, it is the users of a product that can tell whether it is good or not. So the employers of these graduates who are the users, are in a better position to tell whether they are adequately trained or not. If they are of low quality, we will be able to determine why this is so from their responses and proffer ways of improving them.
The findings of this research will help to determine how correct it is to say that tertiary graduates are either of low or high quality. If low, findings will help to determine areas where they are low and put the institutions at alert.
Whether the quality is high or low, findings from the suggested ways of improvement from the employers will definitely yield novel information that will help the tertiary institutions determine ways of improving the academic/practical quality of the institutions.
1.6 Scope of the study
This study will examine the quality level of graduates from tertiary institution in Nigeria. The study will also find out factors influencing quality of university education programmes. Lastly, the study will investigate if quality assurance factors affect graduates’ employability. Hence this study is delimited to Nassarawa State University.
1.7 Limitation Of The Study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
Definition of Terms:
Quality: is the measuring of graduates’ outputs against inputs to determine effectiveness and efficiency. It also referred to the performance Level. It is also used in this study to mean readiness for work.
Tertiary graduates: refer to those who have completed the normal years of training for their undertaken course in polytechnics, universities and colleges of education respectively; and were awarded certificates to that effect; including graduates of other forms of education higher than the secondary.