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Funding of academic research in Nigerian universities

Donwa, Patience


The level of significance of academic research in Nigerian universities has its origin in the main objectives of establishing these institutions. The first of these institutions, the University of Ibadan, which was established in 1948, had the main objective of producing manpower that would eventually take over administrative responsibilities from colonial masters. The other universities which were later established have the same focus of awarding degrees for the purpose of increasing manpower. Research was not accorded its place as a policy in the establishment of universities in Nigeria.  From a study carried out by the University of Sussex on funding of university research in different nations, evidence shows that in many countries, over 50% of research funding comes from industry. Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S.A. recorded industry funding of over 60%. Korea and Japan showed funding by industry of over 70%. For Nigeria, industry involvement in universities include endowment of professional chairs in certain disciplines, construction of office and hostel blocks and some donations of laboratory equipment. Often times experts have been invited from universities by  organizations (notably oil industry) to carry out some feasibility studies and surveys, and sometimes to conduct training workshop for employees. There is no industry involvement in funding academic research.

The problem identified for this study is that universities, which should thrive as centers of knowledge dissemination, research and knowledge creation have not maintained their full savour in developing countries. In most of these regions, universities can at best be described as ‘teaching centres’ due to their focus on knowledge dissemination and insignificant contribution to knowledge creation through academic research. Thus, much of the knowledge disseminated is copied work as no flavour of originality can be credited to them. A number of factors are responsible for this condition, notable among them is inadequate funding of universities generally.

The objectives of the study are to evaluate:
􀀂 the extent of funding of academic research in universities,
􀀂 the pattern of funding,
􀀂 the factors that motivate these funding,
􀀂 the sources and reliability of these sources of funding,
􀀂 the demand for academic research as well as the frequency of demand.

The scope embraces the capacity for research as it exists in the universities, specifically funding. The conditions,  dependability and sources of financial support for academic research in Nigerian universities were the foci.  The methodology involved the use of self-administered questionnaire to academic planning units of 8 universities that made a fair representative of all regions (north, south, east and west) of the country. The analytical approaches used were descriptive and simple percentages that related research funding to GDP.

The study revealed that:

􀀂 Government support accounts for over 98% of research funding in Nigerian universities, no industry support and the rest of the funding which is less than 20% comes from foreign agencies.
􀀂 Research funding is inadequate and not regular.
􀀂 Whereas investments in R&D in many countries are as high as 6 t0 10% GDP, that of Nigeria is less than 1%.
􀀂 In no year did research funding exceed 0.03%.

Some suggestions that would help improve research funding for the universities are as follows:
􀀂 Government should emphasize research in policy
􀀂 Investment in research should be seen as a development strategy
􀀂 Collaborative links between universities and industries is inevitable
􀀂 Industry involvement in funding should be seen as corporate social
􀀂 Government should channel all researches to universities, and encourage
industries to do the same.

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Title of Paper: Funding of academic research in Nigerian universities
Conference Name: Second International Colloquium on Research and Higher Education Policy
Conference Date: 2006-11-29
Conference Location: UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France
Published as Proceedings: no

Document Type:Conference Paper (Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Research
Keywords:Nigeria, Research, Research Funding, Universities, Statistics

File Size:118 KB
Rights:Permission to reproduce this paper was granted by the author.
Date Added:12 April 2007

Donwa, Patience (2006). Funding of academic research in Nigerian universities, Paper presented at the Second International Colloquium on Research and Higher Education Policy, International Institute for Educational Planning, Paris, 2006