The Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof. Julius Okojie, has called for a review of the NYSC Presidential Award scholarship scheme to include only the best graduates.
Speaking in London on Sunday at a reception organised by the Nigerian High Commission for the second batch of the presidential scholarship awardees, Okojie said that the scheme should be restricted to only first class, second class upper and lower division graduates.
“If you are talking about someone getting an award, he should be an all rounder; community service should not be the only criterion, there should be a balance, the whole idea is to send our best here.
“Those with third class cannot get Ph.D and lecture in the university; we want them to at some point to move from the civil service to the university system; third class is not for Ph.D anywhere, even in Nigeria,” he said.
Responding to concerns by the students on the continuation of their scholarship to the doctorate level, Okojie urged them to study hard “and bring home the best of universal practice”.
In his comments, the acting Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND), Mr Na’iya Aliyu, said that the fund was sponsoring 35 students and 2,837 lecturers to study various post-graduate courses overseas. Aliyu said the second batch consisted 35 students, of which 30 were studying in the UK, while five were in other parts of Europe.
He also said that 2,837 lecturers from various universities in Nigeria had benefited from the scheme, adding that 885 lecturers had been trained in the UK since 2009.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Dr Dalhatu Tafida, urged the students to return to Nigeria after their studies.
“To whom much is given, much is expected; after your post graduate degree return home and contribute to national development. You should consider yourselves privileged to have been selected for this award. There is no place like home, we may not have enough electricity and water, but those who built the UK are British, only Nigerians can develop Nigeria,” Tafida said.
He pledged the commission’s commitment to assist the awardees and other Nigerian students in the UK.
In 2011 President Goodluck Jonathan established the scheme covering scholarship for masters and doctorate degree holders in world class institutions to reward corps members who were exceptional in their community service.
Beneficiaries also get automatic employment in the civil service. At the inception of the scheme, 52 former corps members drawn from the 2009 Batch ‘C’ and 2010 batches ‘A’ and ‘B’ benefited as the pioneer awardees.
Also the joint team of NUC and TETFUND were in the UK for a monitoring exercise in institutions where the awardees are studying.