Bt Chidimma C. Okeke
“I will advise that if you have money and want to do your masters, it’s either you go abroad or to a private university. Nigerian public universities, yes they have the lecturers, the experience but trust me they will frustrate you and with the level of frustration, I don’t think people really learn on what they are supposed to anymore, they just want to get the certificate and get out,” said Adenike who took five years to get a master degree in a Nigerian public university.Why post graduate students take longer time to graduate in public varsities.
Adenike who does not want her surname mentioned said: “I got my admission for my masters in 2016 but lectures started in 2017 and between 2017 and 2019, I had three carryovers and I rewrote them but kept failing one particular course and I was wondering what the issue was.”
Narrating her experience, she said: “I was advised to see the lecturer to know what the problem was and he categorically told me that I am a working class lady and I just think I would come to do my masters without forming some kind of rapport in the sense that I needed to be buying my lecturers some stuff and I said okay.
“The first time I saved N20,000 and gave the link between me and the lecturer, the money never came back to me and I thought it was okay, I rewrote the course and I failed again.
“I went back to the lecturer and he told me if undergraduates lecturers are giving N20, 000 why should I, a post graduate student and working class still give N20,000. I was shocked and asked where he expected me to get more money, he said if undergraduates are getting such money, what excuse do I have as a working class,” she said.
According to her, she had to look for another N50,000 and also gave N10, 000 at one point and along the line she passed but not with high grades but it was good enough for her to be done and focus on her project.
She however, noted that for an extra year spent, she had to pay another school fee.
“I rounded off my project and went for my defence in 2020, before COVID -19, I actually got my certificate in 2022 and that means it took me roughly five years to complete my masters, which was meant to be for about two years.
Adenike stressed that due to the lecturer’s actions, the quality of students being graduated these days is nothing to write about.
Adenike is not the only one who felt frustrated while pursuing post graduate studies in public varsities but so are many other students, leading to many spending extra years before they will be done and many others who had to drop or put a halt to their studies to pursue other things.
The masters course, which was supposed to last at a maximum of two years and PhD for three years now takes more years to be accomplished due to many factors ranging from frustration from lecturers, funding, tight schedule at work places, among other issues that students had to face while in pursuit of their academics.
Another master’s student, Mercy John said “I just had to abandon my project for a long time now after I was frustrated by my supervisor. You can imagine him changing my project topic for a very flimsy excuse after I had gone far.”
Mercy said her hopes were high when she got admission for a master’s degree to study one of the social sciences courses in a public university.
“It was a feat I didn’t imagine I would get considering how my pursuit for higher education started. When I was encouraged to go for masters, I thought it was beyond me but my belief changed when I was handed my admission letter,” she said.
After the registration and classes commenced, she was elated that she was going above her expectations in terms of pursuing higher education considering that none of her siblings went beyond first degree.
“Though, my attention was divided between my work and school, I must say it was not easy but somehow I managed to go through the class lecture, assignment, and examination. It wasn’t easy because of the cost implications. I was lucky to clear my papers without having to re-sit for any one, but I later discovered that the frustration I felt earlier was nothing, until the project issue started,” she said.
“My first challenge was getting a topic that my supervisor would accept, which took me a longer time until finally he decided to give me a topic. This was not on a pro bono basis, something went down the line and I started but at some point I got frustrated because I was practically being billed for everything even for my supervisors personal problems, “ she said.
According to her, he calls her any time he has challenge and needs money to treat his sick children, to fix his faulty car or to say he is hungry among other things, “I got tired and now I am supposed to defend my project but I have to take a break because the amount being demanded is outrageous and they are also asking for two years fees.”
She however said, “If you must go for post graduate studies in public universities, make sure you have enough money to buy your way out of the frustration by lecturers or be ready to suffer heartache.”
Another student who does not want to be mentioned said he has been on it for four years now and it was not as easy as people think.
Also, there are lecturers hiding behind class reps to demand money from the students. In my class, we are required to pay N3000 each and do some other contributions from time to time.
“I got so frustrated and had to abandon it for months when I was finding it difficult to cough out the kind of money they were demanding from me. To worsen the matter, my project was changed after I completed it, saying it was not relevant to my course of study.”
He said: “I suffered because I initially played tough and refused to give in to giving lecturers money but when the frustration was becoming unimaginable, I had to start parting with some money but it still didn’t do much because I was expected to do more.”
Meanwhile, a PhD holder from University of Abuja, who wants to be addressed as Michael said it took him seven years to obtain his PhD for a programme that was supposed to be for three years, saying many abandoned the programme after getting tired and frustrated during the research work.
On the challenges, he said: “At times, it comes with the supervisors, you will be given a supervisor who don’t have time for you and once he gives you appointment and you fail to meet up, then get ready for frustrations, that is if you don’t have enough money to change the situation.”
Another challenge, according to him, is the issue of the external examiner, saying, “It gets so bad that students are meant to contribute money for the accommodation, transport of the external examiner and failure to contribute will mean you wait for the senate to approve the fund, which may be there for years.”
Reacting, Professor Nasiru M. Idris, the Director of Ibrahim Usman Jibril Institute for the Built Environment at Nasarawa State University Keffi said the reasons why postgraduate students take a long time to graduate is because of the procedures involved.
He said academic master’s and doctoral students must pass through seminars, which include proposal, internal and external examinations and students must also satisfy the minimum NUC requirements for graduation, thus two years for masters and three years for PhD.
While noting that the reasons it takes longer than usual time before graduation is applicable to most universities for best practices and quality assurance purposes. He said weak and unserious students take longer because after course work, they hardly interact with their supervisors from time to time for observations and corrections of their projects.
In terms of funds, he said postgraduate programmes are too demanding when compared with undergraduate.
Regarding changes of topics, he said there are procedures, after it has been approved by the postgraduate board, unless the supervisor notices a similarity with another completed work, saying, if students participate in all stages of seminar where panel members are in attendance, such issues will never occur unless otherwise.
“With whistle blowing policy in all universities today, students are at liberty to report such acts of intimidation, extortion, harassment and any other act of unethical conduct to either the HOD, dean and principal officers for disciplinary measures to be taken in that regard,” he said.
Pro Idris said to avoid delay in graduating, “If you secured admission early, pay school fees at the beginning of first semester, attend classes regularly and not by proxy, do all your continuous assessments and exams by yourself and finally do your project work as a student and by not paying someone else to do it for you, you are good to go without any hitch and I can assure you that your results will be outstanding and you will be proud of yourself.”