How Relevant is Your Degree?

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Prof Saburi Adesanya
Prof Saburi Adesanya

As technologies continue to dictate pace of development, some university courses are heading towards extinction

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 31, 2012 @ 01:00 GMT

IN THE next few years, some university degrees may likely go extinct globally, going by the 2012 study carried out by the Georgetown University Centre on Education and Workforce prediction. Vicki Lynn, vice president of the centre, said some degrees kept dwindling by the day as employers of labour find them irrelevant to the labour market. “Earning a bachelor’s degree impresses a lot of people, but not all university degrees are created equally. Some might not impress a lot of employers,” she said.

According to the report, degrees on subjects like architecture, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, and information systems are unimpressive. The report shows that 13.9 percent of the people with these degrees are unemployed and thus youths are now encouraged to study courses like business administration, elementary education, criminal justice, and psychology. Others are computer science, accounting, communication and engineering.

Already, some employers of labour in Nigeria are insinuating that what the universities are producing do not meet the requirements in the labour market. Matthias Chibueze, deputy director, Global Agenda for Total Emancipation, GATE, agrees totally with the academic prediction. He said it is a challenge to those professions to really look inward to be more creative and make themselves marketable. “For those of us in the industry, our concern is on the creativities which the individual can offer to the company. The problem of our graduates today is that they come out with theories without relevant skills to back them up. Again, the content of our educational system is a problem because it is out-dated and no longer relevant to the dynamism of the society,” Chibueze said.

Nigerian universities are not moving with the time and the educational system has fallen short of standards which may lead to extinction of some professions. “The skills are no longer there; all our graduates are only interested in collecting salary. If you are collecting salary, what values have you added to the organisation? If a profession cannot provide services people could pay for, that profession should fade out. I’m challenging our lecturers and educational institutions to look inward because something is lacking in the curriculum they are using. If the system does not become entrepreneurial in nature, we will continue to have unemployed and unemployable graduates,” he said.

Despite the criticisms, some scholars believe that Nigerian graduates are not as bad as people think. Saburi Adesanya, acting Vice Chancellor of Olabisi Onabanjo University, said that the insinuation that Nigerian universities are producing unemployable graduates would only create negative impression about the school leavers, because many companies in the country still employ them.

“Those working in companies around the country, are they foreigners? They are Nigerians trained in Nigerian universities. So, we should not use a few bad ones to destroy the others. The problem is not about quality per se, it is about high rate of unemployment. So, if 20,000 graduates are looking for jobs in a company that needs only 10, the standard will be raised and a dog will be given a bad name in order to hang it,” he said.

Steven Alumona, a lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikwe University, Akwa, Anambra State, argues that a lot of people who believe that the graduates are unemployable are ignorant of the university education system. “The essence of educational reforms and reaccreditations of courses in the universities are to meet the societal needs and standards. They should also provide additional trainings for our graduates in order to meet the rudiments of their new jobs,” Alumona said.

Lawrence Okeh, an Enugu-based counsellor, said the problem in Nigeria has to do with understanding the rudiments of a profession before choosing it as a career. Okeh explained that many of the Nigerian graduates today choose their careers either to impress their parents, friends or just to earn a degree. He called on the government to include guidance and counselling in both the primary and secondary school curriculum to help students choose their own careers.

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