To enhance quality and employability of its agricultural graduates, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Professor Felix Kolawole Salako, has disclosed the institution’s readiness to chart a new course and explore innovative strategies to solve accommodation and transportation challenges.
He said though some hostels were built and some of them were opened last year, “the fact remains that we cannot provide enough hostels that will match the population of the students.”
He disclosed that the university has a student population of about 15,000 and it could cater for only 20 per cent of them, saying this had prompted most of the students to live outside the campus.
He said the university is favourably disposed to collaboration with private hostel developers, but such developers would have to obtain official approval from the Federal Government.
“FUNAAB is owned by the Federal Government, license should be obtained by the interested parties from the government,” he said.
Obtaining a license from the government, he added, is crucial because the university “attempted a public-private partnership in accommodation and ended up in court, with access to our funds restricted for a period of time.”
Other reservation he pointed out, however, is “allowing for private investments in hostels may lead to chaos emanating from the comparison by students on the facilities that their fellow students enjoy living in the private-owned hostels on campus while they live under deplorable conditions in the school hostels. This has security implications.”
Another area of collaboration the university could explore, he added, is in the transportation services.
Partnership with corporate bodies, individuals and groups is a welcome idea that could resolve the perennial transportation service difficulty.
However, Prof. Salako said “it is not that we do not encourage private partnership, but the fares charged by the university-owned buses might discourage the students from patronising the commercial vehicles.”
He explained that “commercial buses operate within the premises but because the university’s shuttles are cheaper, the commercial bus transporters are not really patronised.
“We met with the students’ leaders three times before we could increase the bus fare from N10 to N20, whereas the commercial buses do charge N50 and so the students will prefer ours.”