The National Universities Commission (NUC) has stated that it does not recognise the one-year Top-Degree programme allegedly implemented by the National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, in Nigerian polytechnics to allow holders of the Higher National Diploma, HND, to convert their certificates to first degrees with foreign accredited universities.
According to a statement by the NUC’s Acting Executive Secretary, Chris Maiyaki, the report, which was credited to the NBTE’s Executive Secretary, Professor Idirs Bugaje, revealed that the action was in furtherance of the advocacy for the removal of the existing dichotomy between HND graduates in their various places of work and to improve the beneficiaries’ opportunities for further studies.
The NUC acting Executive Secretary used the statement to warn the management of the NBTE and to inform the general public that the “Bill for an Act to Abolish and Prohibit Dichotomy and Discrimination between First Degree and HND in the Same Profession and Field for the Purpose of Employment and for Related Matters”, which was passed by the 9th National Assembly in 2021, is yet to be assented to by Mr. President; therefore, at the moment, there is no law that has removed the dichotomy between a university degree and the HND.
According to Chris Maiyaki, the NUC Establishment Law, CAP N81, LFN, 2004, and its Operational Law, the Education National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions Act, CAP E3 LFN, 2004, give the Commission the authority to oversee and regulate university education in Nigeria, establish minimum academic standards in the country’s universities and other degree-awarding institutions, and accredit their programmes.
Maiyaki emphasises that the university degree conferred by the Nigerian University System or any cognate institution is not the same as the HND conferred by Nigerian Polytechnics, and that in the Nigerian higher education space, the processes, contents, and methods required for the acquisition of a university degree are significantly different from those required for HND programmes.
According to the NUC, the requirements for admission into any Master’s degree programme in Nigerian Universities for candidates with HND at the post-graduate level include, among other things, the acquisition of a Postgraduate Diploma, PGD from a recognised University in an area relevant to that for which Master’s admission is sought.
The statement also emphasises that beneficiaries of the alleged NBTE’s one-year Top-Up Programme will be subjected to extant admission requirements by Nigerian universities if they wish to continue their studies in the university, and that the general public, as well as all relevant ministries, departments, and agencies, should be aware that the NUC is not a party to and, in fact, rejects the NBTE’s so-called Top-up Scheme.
The NUC recommends the NBTE to focus on its core mandate and refrain from introducing activities that are outside its competence and are not backed by any Nigerian law.