Quality Assurance and Academic Progress in KUST: A testimonial of innovative stride under Prof. Shehu Musa- Saidu Abdullahi Nayaya
By Saidu Abdullahi Nayaya
Necessity is the mother of invention, a proverbial assertion in the English parlance that illustrates a symbiotic relationship between problem and solution depicted in any sphere of life.
In his determination to transform the existing structure at Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil, (KUST) into a modern citadel of academic excellence, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Shehu Musa contended with the proverbial cliché of “necessity and invention”, a journey he navigated in the last eight years.
Today, the cerebral university administrator has successfully reversed the status quo and instilled monumental innovation in academic progression and quality assurance, a precedent that has placed KUST among the fast-growing and most subscribed tertiary institutions in Northern Nigeria.
Although Professor Shehu Musa was never in doubt about a mission and vision to give a facelift to academic integrity and physical development, the Vice Chancellor tirelessly worked to improve teaching and learning as well as increase the visibility of KUST on the pedestals of the global ranking.
Essentially, this spotlight dissects the testimonial accounts of quality assurance, innovation and academic progress in KUST since Professor Shehu Musa assumed the leadership of the university on 14th November 2013.
KUST Academic Staff Training
Intellectual strength determines the capacity and scholarship of every academic institution. In fulfilment of one out of the seven vocal points of Professor Shehu Musa, the university invested significant resources in the intellectual base and human development of the institution.
Available data obtained from the university’s Directorate of Academic Planning and Control (DAPC) indicated a total sum of 312 academic staff benefited from the university’s scholarship, further expanding their frontier of knowledge.
In the data provided by the Director of DAPC, Dr Maitama Hotoro, the Vice Chancellor Professor Shehu Musa magnanimously approved both foreign and local scholarships for academic and non-academic staff of the institution with a commitment to contribute their quotas to human resources and development in the university.
In specific terms, Professor Shehu granted scholarships to 69 PhDs, 101 M.Sc and 142 staff with BSc, HND, ND, NCE and other relevant qualifications. The Vice-Chancellor facilitated a similar scholarship opportunity from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to augment the strength of KUST’s intellectual base. On the part of TETFUND, the VC attracted 128 PhD’s, 28 M.Sc and 8 staff on bench work training.
Apart from the scholarship opportunity, Professor Shehu Musa graciously approved huge resources on foreign and local conference attendance for both academic and non-Academic Staff of the university.
Cumulatively, 370 staff secured such chances to widen their horizon with 40 and 60 per cent international and local ratio respectively.
In the same vein, Professor Shehu Musa has aided significant resources for academic publications and manuscripts by KUST staff to contribute to the body of knowledge. According to records, 10 manuscripts have been published in various fields of learning including Physics (1), Biology (1), Climate Change (1) Biochemistry (3) and (4) in the area of General studies.
KUST Academic Promotion and Employment Opportunity
When he resumed duty, Professor Shehu Musa was the only full professor in the university with only three academic staff on the rank of readership. Presently, KUST has produced 25 academic staff in the full professorial cadre and about 50 readers on the verge of reaching the apex academic cadre. The unique academic promotion superintendent by the Vice Chancellor equally ratified hundreds of holders of PhD upon completion of their thesis, majority of them sponsored by the university.
Professor Shehu Musa filled the wide gap of manpower deficit in the university in the last nine years with the recruitment of sizable but most competent capacity in both academic and non-academic. The recruitment became necessary to meet the growing number of candidates seeking admission into new faculties, departments and postgraduate programmes.
Between 2014 and 2017, available data indicated the recruitment of 250 teaching staff and 100 non-teaching staff. Similar exercises conducted between 2017 till date indicated 137 (full-time) academic staff, 4 (contract) and 32 laboratory technologists (full-time). Also, 675 administrative and Technology staff (full-time) and 21 (contract) got jobs. In addition, the appointment and renewal of 146 staff on visiting and sabbatical were yearly achieved on the average. Data specifying the analysis above were obtained from the university’s Human Resources department.
Reformation of KUST Management Information System (MIS)
Management Information System (MIS) is an artificial brain and information data box of every tertiary institution. Established in 2006, the MIS unit at KUST controls the collation and processes student and staff information data. Prior to his assumption as vice Chancellor, the centre was devoid of necessary facilities to discharge functions, including human capacity and equipment to efficiently optimize data management. The laxity however impeded KUST’s ability to conform with the dynamics of synchronization of information systems and data management.
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Professor Shehu Musa however left no stone unturned on a mission to rescue the situation. Urgently, the Vice Chancellor engaged the services of professional and competent hands essentially to carry out the innovations and academic integrity of the university. Some of the few changes introduced by the VC at the MIS include the centralization of information management of students and staff, computer-based examination, adoption of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and partnership with global ICT firms to deploy the university’s hardware.
Director of the Management Information System KUST, Dr Alhassan Adamu who is an alumnus of the university attested to the contribution and courage of Professor Shehu Musa to reform the MIS, emphasized the renewed energy deployed to place KUST on the global academic visibility.
According to Dr Adamu, “ On assumption of duty, we developed an action plan to renew the centralization of our data. There was a decentralized system which made it impossible to harmonize our information in the past. For instance, then, students will go to departments and faculties for registration and later move to other units for similar registration before bursary for payment.
“In a nutshell, there was a lack of synchronization between all these units making it difficult for the university to identify who paid and who did not. This is because students only take hardcopy to the department as a means of identification for registration; nobody can prove the authenticity or confirm the veracity”.
These and several other systemic challenges were finally put to rest in no time the Vice Chancellor rose to the occasion. As a solution, the MIS under the stewardship of Professor Shehu Musa came up with a centralized system where all data information is synchronized under one system. With the VC’s support, the MIS developed a new university portal that administers student affairs from the point of admission all through the point of graduation, the student information flows through the portal.
“As an innovation, students do not need to physically appear in the university before getting admission. The MIS will get data of the applicants from the JAMB portal, upload and students get notice of admission and then payment would be made online. Thereafter we invite them for post-UTME verification. The candidate will write an aptitude test and the result is out in less than 24 hours. Unlike when students write with pen and paper during the examination and take another one week before the result is released” Dr Adamu explained.
At the level of Continuous Assessment examination, Professor Shehu Musa introduced Computer Based Examination beginning from 100 level students. The idea is to improve integrity and eliminate fraud during semester examinations. The CBE system is anchored with an Automated Attendance System (AAS), a unique technology that synchronizes student’s data in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards. The RFID card that contains an individual student’s unique identification number on campus.
“It is through that unique number that students are scheduled for examinations which also link to RFID software. So when students go for examinations, they slot their RFID card into a reader system which would certify the eligibility of student identity. The whole idea is to strengthen the integrity of our examination. With such a system, the possibility of impersonation is near impossible in KUST”, Dr Adamu noted.
The hosting of technological hardware in the global domain also took the magnanimity of the VC who approved the engagement of the cloud services to host the KUST website and other software that enabled 24 hours 7 days internet accessibility in the university. Additionally, KUST secured a robust working relationship with global ICT giant “Google” to provide the university with an institutional technological platform to widen its visibility and knowledge base.
Professor Shehu Musa was actually in haste to grant all requirements to cement the partnership. The working partnership with Google provides institutional email; thereby boosting the visibility of KUST and automatically increases the reach in the university’s global ranking.
The renewed information system under the leadership of Professor Shehu Musa has equally made the payment process at KUST seamless. Gone are the days when thousands of students would be compelled to spend productive hours in a queue at the banks simply to collect PINs and make payments. With the upgrade of the payment portal, students can now log online at the comfort of their rooms to initiative their payment.
KUST Reformation of Reading Culture with Introduction of e-Library and e-Learning
Central to academic progress recorded under the Vice Chancellor were the upgrade of the KUST library, establishment of departmental reading centres, introduction of e-library and e-learning centres, establishment of the Department of Library and Information Science and procurement of about 50,000 volumes of relevant academic books. As attested by the University’s Librarian, Mallam Danladi Bala, the KUST library was repositioned to stand at equal among modern libraries and fitted to making reading and learning conducive.
In fairness to past Vice Chancellors of the university who had also contributed their best to improve the status of the university library, available facts and records clearly show more impactful achievements of Professor Shehu Musa on the path to install modern reading centres in the university.
For instance, Professor Shehu Musa established six faculty libraries, about 20 departmental libraries and a postgraduate library besides the central library. Also the VC pioneered the establishment of multimedia and binding units in the library connected with internet facilities and approved the employment of about 16 qualified Liberians to manage all these facilities.
According to Danlandi, “From the date he assumed duty some nine years ago, we have a tremendous achievement in terms of infrastructure, staff development, resources and many other things. In particular, as you know, a Library is central to any academic institution without a functional institutional library little progress could be achieved. Our Vice-Chancellor paid serious attention to the development of the library, that I can competently confirm.
“In terms of resources, reading materials both for staff and students, we have made tremendous progress. This is because when we came, we had few books and journals but presently, our libraries are fully stocked with more than 50,000 volumes of relevant academic books courtesy of the VC’s dedication to the development of the library.
“Professor Shehu Musa approved the establishment of e-library and e-learning centres. KUST has one of the best centres in the country and that was attested to during the accreditation of our programs by a staff of NUC who revealed that he has never seen a well-functional library with well-equipped resources”.
The KUST Librarian further said: “We have about 300 computers in our e-library and we subscribed to about 8 databases both online and offline besides other free networks. Again, with the e-library, the university makes judicious use of the 300 computers for e-examination. We also use the e-library for external examinations. Apart from that we also have an e-learning centre attached to the e-library with 100 computers for research work used by the academic staff to teach the students through the instructive board networked to the internet connectivity.
“In terms of staff development, we have made serious improvements because when we came on board we had very few staff. With the intervention of Professor Shehu Musa the situation changes for good. Presently, we have not less than 16 professional librarians working in the library.
“The impact of the staff recruitment gave birth to the establishment of the Library and Information Science Department in the university with the staff strength piloting the teaching and learning of the department. The university library developed curriculum and other necessary resources to kick start the department after being certified by the university’s senate and that has recently earned the NUC full accreditation”. Danladi explained.
KUST Alumni and Impact on Socio-Economic Development
In all feats, KUST has continued to grow in lips and bands, turning out quality manpower resources spread across the stratum of economy in Nigeria and abroad. Professor Shehu Musa has nurtured quality products of the university, certified both in character and learning. Majority of these worthy ambassadors are busy creating wealth and employment opportunities for teeming youth while those in the entrepreneurship trait and many others are making their alma mater proud.
Quite a number of KUST Alumni who are making significant impact spread across various sectors include Professor Nasiru Faruq Gujungu, a lecturer with Sule Lamido University, Kafin-Hausa, Jigawa state and Architect Bilkisu Garba, of the Upcycle Architect (TUPA). Arc. Bilkisu lectures students of Entrepreneurship of Butler University, Indianapolis, U.S.A in 2021 based on projects executed at The Upcycle Architect.
Dr Aminu Wada Fanda, a 2014 graduate of Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife also lectures in the department he graduated from at Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil. Aysha Sulaiman Babasidi a graduate of Biochemistry is presently the Chief Executive Officer Ashley’s Cuisine’s. She presently employs 22 staff and trained over 200 women on small chops business.
Another KUST Alumnus Dr. Yunus Abdulhameed is currently a visiting assistant professor of Physics at Bates College, USA. As postdoctoral researcher, Yunus worked on a huge biomedical data obtained from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (DARPA) grant at the University of Texas. He is the driving force in the development of an early reliable noninvasive diagnosis of malaria.
In the security sector, KUST products are well represented. The present Police Public Relations Officer, Kano state Command, SP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa is a graduate of Mathematics of KUST. Yusuf Abubakar, Ahmad Muhammad and many more senior officers at Nigerian Customs Services are also proud products of KUST.
Umar Shehu Umar, graduated with first class in agricultural economics from KUST and now a PhD holder from University of Reading, UK under the prestigious commonwealth scholarship. Umar was the first graduate to obtain the commonwealth scholarship
Dr Umar Dauda, a first-class graduate of Mathematics and overall graduate of Kano state French scholarship program, best out of sixteen participants drawn from across other nationals. The performance however earned him an automatic PhD scholarship at the Universite de Bourgogne, France. Presently, he lectures in the Department of Mathematics at the same university.
Abubakar Muhammad Adam (KAMALAH), proprietor of Sensitive MM Kamalah enterprises, an industrial outfit in Sharada and Danbatta areas of the state. He employed 27 graduates of KUST. He has pledged to provide a luxury bus to aid student’s transportation among a host of others.
Nayaya, Head of Public Relations, KUST Wudil, writes from Kano.