The World Bank has released the first tranche of funding totalling N1.4 billion to facilitate the take off of 10 African Centres of Excellence in Nigerian universities.
The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Julius Okojie, who disclosed this at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, said the money was released to 10 out of the 19 centres.
He said the centres are expected to embark on various research works to help solve problems confronting the African continent.
He explained that the centres would focus their research on various fields, namely agriculture, health, science and technology, engineering and mathematics.
Mr. Okojie, a professor, cautioned the benefiting institutions against compromising the objectives of the scheme.
He said the success of the ACE projects holds the prospect of favourable global ranking for Nigerian universities and that the country could not afford to toy with the opportunity.
The NUC secretary noted that the feat of a Nigerian university which assisted in checking the spread and scourge of the Ebola Virus Disease when it broke out in the country last year could have ordinarily earned Nigeria a top place among world universities.
According to him, investigations had commenced to identify universities offering online degrees with a view to checking their illicit operations.
He said the Nigerian Research and Education Network is solving the problem of Internet connectivity in Nigerian universities and assured that it would improve global presence of Nigerian universities.
He argued that a system where some foreign universities award degrees to unsuspecting Nigerians without physical contact with their students leaves much to be desired.
On the recent low ranking of Nigerian Universities, Mr. Okojie said the standard of country’s universities was high in spite of their categorisation.
He stressed that that the problem with Nigerian universities was low Internet presence.