GOLD STAR

Nigeria 2018 | HEALTH & EDUCATION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Enase Okonedo, Dean of Lagos Business School, on international standards, plugging university brain drain, and better collaboration.

 Dr. Enase Okonedo
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Enase Okonedo is responsible for overseeing all strategic, academic, and administrative matters of Lagos Business Schools (LBS). Prior to becoming dean, she held several leadership positions at LBS including Executive MBA Director, Academic Director, and Deputy Dean of Academics. She obtained her MBA from IESE Business School, Barcelona, and doctorate from International School of Management, Paris. A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, the International Academy of Management, and the Society for Corporate Governance, Dr. Okonedo chairs the LBS Management Board. From 2012-2013, she was the chairperson of the Association of African Business Schools and a member of the board until May 2016.

How does your recent Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation enhance your international recognition?

Only 5% of the world's universities that offer graduate and undergraduate programs are accredited with AACSB, while only 2% of universities that only offer graduate programs have this accreditation. LBS has been accredited by AACSB, and we also received the Association of MBAs (AMBA) accreditation, which, again, only 2% of the world's schools have. We join an extremely elite group of schools. The AACSB accreditation is the gold standard, which helps us significantly because now we can attract people who would otherwise go abroad since we offer global standards. It does enhance our reputation, which is likely why we have seen such a high intake for the MBA program in 2017.

What more can be done to reverse the trend of young Nigerians choosing to study abroad?

We need more high-quality education institutions. Nigerians invest in education expecting a return on such an investment, and thus the only way to address this is to strengthen education to a higher quality. This cannot be done without resources, and in a recession, education institutions have fewer resources available. USD2 billion is spent on overseas education, which could be spent on the national system instead. Nonetheless, as of 2017, we have a higher number of private universities. If institutions like us can attain accreditation, this will prove to the people of Nigeria that local institutions can attain global standards, and their degrees from an accredited Nigerian school will appeal to employers around the world.

What is the potential for Nigeria to become a higher education hub within Africa?

There is a great deal of potential. There are currently more private universities than public ones, and the number is constantly growing. There is greater funding available because such universities typically have either an extremely wealthy owner or are faith-based, and hence promoted by a particular organization. Foreign universities are also interested in coming here; however, there are currently certain constraints in the regulations preventing foreign universities from setting up stand-alone campuses. Foreign universities are inclined to come and partner with a local university in Nigeria and that has the potential to strengthen the quality of the offering in the country. There is great potential, especially given that, by 2050, Africa will have the largest population of college-age students in the world.

What can be done to further enhance the sector through public and private cooperation?

The various arms of the government seek ways to partner with private universities. For example, the Lagos State government has raised the issue of internships for students in our various programs. Also, there is the TETFUND, a tertiary education fund that applies an education tax on all companies. This is a pool that is given to universities to enhance their operations. However, currently, the law precludes private universities from benefiting from this fund. If we are concerned with enhancing education at a national level, then funding should go to the entire tertiary education system, public or private. It is in the interest of private corporations to have a better qualified and skilled talent pool from which they can get their workforce, and various private companies have sought out ways to make this happen. Other ways of support include offering scholarships to undertake research.