…as she sponsors annual grant for junior researchers, academics in FUOYE
From Kehinde Adewole
For some years now, the Federal University Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE) has been one of the most-sought-after by prospective Nigerian youths seeking for quality University education in a public system. For instance, findings revealed that candidates who chose FUOYE for the 2020/21 academic session alone were over 30,000 while the University is permitted to admit about 7,000 or more.
Some prospective students who commented on the uncommon development attributed the rush for FUOYE to the fact that the University offers sound, quality and impactful education.
To find out more about why the reason for this development, our Correspondent recently interviewed the institution’s Director of Academic Planning, erudite scholar and Professor of Industrial Chemistry, Prof. (Mrs.) Cecelia Olufunke Akintayo, who had also given FUOYE’s Inuagural lecture’s maiden edition with her ground breaking research, tagged: “The place of Plant oil derived products as sustainable replacement for petrochemical products in industries” in 2019, she explained to us how FUOYE has been making huge efforts at creating a world class citadel of learning out of FUOYE and also explained the inspiration behind an annual award of N50,000 she sponsors single-handedly for young scholars who are staff of the University . Excerpts:
Please kindly introduce yourself ma
I am Cecilia Olufunke Akintayo. A Professor of Industrial Chemistry and presently the Director, Academic Planning unit of FUOYE.
As the FUOYE’s Director of Academic Planning, what has been FUOYE’s efforts towards promoting research and scholarship generally
FUOYE has institutional arrangement for the promotion of research and scholarship that is coordinated by the Office of Research and Development. We are awaiting approval for the commencement of awarding Senate Research grants to encourage more impactful research. The University is always providing needed resources to departments which make nearly all departments in FUOYE to be fully accredited by the NUC. All these efforts promote scholarship in the University.
We leant that you are sponsoring The Prof Cecilia Akintayo Publication Award, what is the Inspiration behind the annual award scheme?
Being a budding or even a seasoned researcher in sub-Saharan Africa comes with great challenges like; finding one’s identity and standpoint as a researcher; a lack of research funding support ; and grappling with the temptation to target quantity instead of quality. However there are some academics within our system (FUOYE) that, despite these challenges put in their personal resources and energy to still remain competitive with their counterparts in developed world by publishing their research work in journals that are internationally recognized (journals listed in Science Citation Index, Social Science Index and the equivalent for the Arts and Humanities, otherwise called ISI journals). These researchers apart from earning regular promotion (which others get with published articles in less qualitative journals) are hardly recognized. Since University is more about scholarship, this category of seasoned researchers should constitute the la crème of our University. The annual award is therefore to identify, recognize, celebrate and give a modest reward to our young and upcoming researchers who are not only hardworking but prolific in churning out high quality research results published in international peer reviewed journals. These are the academics that are most important to any university and not the noise makers and sycophants who would do anything to gain attention of people in power in the University for Self-aggrandizement.
How would the award scheme impact on scholarship in FUOYE?
There is the problem of Vanity Publications” and production of mercenary Scholars in many of our Universities nowadays which is dangerous to scholarship. You see, scholarship is the ability to produce knowledge that is able to withstand any academic scrutiny and gain general attention. It may be a personal or a group effort to create sound knowledge which is original and transferable. Given the standard peer review (collaborative process that allows independent experts in the same field of research to evaluate and comment on manuscript) process of the journals listed in the above citation indexes, the internationally recognized journals publish mostly original works that stand the test of time. This award scheme, by recognizing and rewarding our academics who publish in such internationally recognized journals would motivate many other academics within FUOYE to achieve this feat. The more of such scholars we have the higher the scholarship index/rating of FUOYE. The higher the visibility of FUOYE and our University would not only earn respect for producing research results which have links between the science being done and the real-world conditions in which it is applied but also become a globally competitive institution.
What is the yardstick for getting qualified for the award
The Prof Cecilia Akintayo Publication Award is given to FUOYE staff with the highest number of published articles in journals listed in Science Citation Index, Social Science Index and the equivalent for the Arts and Humanities in a particular year.The recipient must be a staff of FUOYE and not more than a Senior Lecturer in rank as at October of the award year. Female entries are given special consideration.
What has been the impression of the academics in FUOYE towards this positive and encouraging development?
I am very proud of the crop of academics that FUOYE parades. This is a new initiative in FUOYE, but the first call for application for the award had many entries beyond our expectation. And on announcement of the winners for the year 2020 in December 2020, many of our young researchers were motivated and promised to make the list in 2021.The award is generally well received and applauded by the FUOYE academic community and this makes one happy that the manpower for excellence and scholarship are here in FUOYE,
What advice do you have for government and other relevant stakeholders on encouraging scholarship in Nigeria?
Government should prioritize education and improve funding of Universities in the country so that these institutions can be well equipped to become real knowledge generating institutions that can drive the creation of new knowledge and innovation through cutting edge research.
The Private sector should see Universities as Partners in progress and invest substantially through collaborative research projects and endowment of funds in universities for specific research that would benefit their products. The Private sector should challenge our Universities to provide solutions to their problems and challenges.
Other relevant stakeholders within the Universities should see to digitization of contents, repository of knowledge, electronic archiving etc to promote scholarship