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Background of the Study

Universities are unarguably the highest institutions of learning the world over, and therefore, most countries consider these institutions as critical to their overall national development. According to Asimiran and Sufean (2009), “University is a fascinating institution with many faces: academic, scientific, social, cultural, economic, political, religious and commercial.  Whatever it is, the noble vision and mission of the University is to generate, expand, and disseminate knowledge in all disciplines for the advancement of human civilization”.

Developed countries have made giant scientific, technological, economic and of course, political gains because of the quality of manpower derived from their universities. It is important to note that less developed countries that are interested in fast-tracking their development, place adequate attention and emphasis on the quality of manpower that is turned out of their educational institutions, especially universities (Ukase, 2011).

Mgbekem (2004) holds that University education prepares people through teaching and learning for acquisition of knowledge and skills for job performance in the civil service, business organization, private enterprises and corporations as well as individual enterprises, as a means of producing high level manpower for the country’s economy. In the same vein, Onokerhoraye and Nwoyen (1995), posited that universities are major vehicles for economic and social development in different parts of the world. The authors maintain that, Universities have the responsibility for equipping individuals with the advanced knowledge and skills required for positions of responsibility in Government and the private sector. Despite the immense benefits of University education in nation building, the potentials of higher education and indeed the University system in developing countries to fulfill its responsibilities is frequently thwarted by long standing problems. A number of these problems have inhibited goal attainment and are raising questions, doubts and fears.

In Nigeria however, each University has been established by a law whether by Federal or State Government, (Korgba, 2011). Since the attainment of Independence by Nigeria in 1960, there are currently 36 Federal Universities across the six geo-political zones of the country. Apart from the federal universities, there are 37 state owned universities and 50 privately owned universities. That means, Nigeria presently has a total of 123 universities. (National University Commission (NUC), 2012).

In order to achieve the aims and objectives for which these Universities are set-up, each of the Universities has a Governing Council. These Councils are the highest policy making bodies of the universities. The Governing Council is the University’s governing body and has the responsibility for both the general direction and superintendence of its University, (Oshio, 2004). The governing councils also respond to the challenges involved in the governance process by making the decisions for sustainable, ethical, and effective management of public University education, (Korgba, 2011).

The composition of the councils is supposed to reflect the Federal Character, gender representation and locational interest and is never through election by the University communities concerned, (Ekong, 2001). Established by the University (Miscellaneous Provisions Amendment) Act (2003), the powers, functions and general mandate of the Governing Councils run inter-alia: Section 2AA of the Act states that;  “The powers of the Council shall be exercised, as in the law and statute of each university and to this extent establishment circulars that are inconsistent with the Laws and statute of the university shall not apply to the university”.

Section2AAA(1) provides that, the governing council of a university shall be free in the discharge of its functions and exercise of its responsibilities for good management, growth and development of the university. Section2AAA(2) provides that the council of a university in the discharge of its functions shall ensure that disbursement of funds of the university complies with the approved budgetary ratio for (a) personnel cost; (b) overhead cost; (c) research and development (d) library developments and (e) the balance in expenditure between academic visa viz non academic activities. Other statutory functions, powers and the mandate of governing councils as provided in the establishing Act, include; responsibility for decisions that have financial implications; general management of the affairs of the university; controlling the property and the expenditure of the university; superintending policy formulation;  and performing any activity which in its opinion is calculated to facilitate the carrying on of the activities of university, including the regulations of the  constitution and conduct of the university; responsibility for recruitment, promotion and discipline of staff; all contracts and appointments at the university are made in the name of council and can only be terminated by council or in the name of council; appointments and removal of  Vice- chancellor from office after due process on grounds of gross misconduct or inability to discharge the functions of the office as a result of infirmity of body or mind.

The purpose of these provisions is to liberate the Universities from the bureaucracy of the civil service and to enable the Council exercise its powers and performs its functions without undue external influence, (Oshio, 2004). In the discharge of councils’ mandate however, it appears that, most University Governing Council activities come into conflict with other organized bodies within the Universities over the implementation of such policies.  As a result, the relevant stakeholders of University system particularly Academic, Non Academic staff and students, have expressed serious concerns about the activities of Governing Councils in the management of Universities in the North Central States. The researcher’s experience indicated that there are doubts as whether the Governing Councils are really playing the game according to rules.

Dominant among these concerns are; appointment of the Vice Chancellors, interference in the affairs of the Senate; Staff personnel administration especially in the areas of recruitment, appointment and promotion; interference with University Staff Unions, like Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Non Academic Staff Union (NASU), Students Union Government (SUG); Staff and Students Personnel Administration and management of University funds.

Councils are said to have set up several ad-hoc committees such as accreditation; academic programs, staff and students welfare, staff audit and funding, whose assignments touch on some of the day-to-day activities of the University management and or Senate, (Ekundayo and Adedokun, 2009). The consequence of the above, is lack of motivation and rancor among staff, loss of confidence and interest in the University governance. There are also cases of recruitments, appointments and promotions of staff which have been done that fell short of expected norms of the university (Visitation Panel Report (VPR) Benue State University (BSU), 2008). This has the consequences of some staff being discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic, Local Government Area and even gender considerations.

Cases of students’ misconduct, examination malpractices and preferential admissions are said not to have been investigated by the councils on the recommendation of the senate. Aggrieved by the above situation, Alabi, (2002) observed that this sometimes leads to destruction of properties, payment of restitution fees and destruction of academic activities.

The appointment of Vice Chancellor is one area of concern that has attracted much attention among stakeholders. This is because the appointment has invariably taken political dimensions. The researcher’s experience indicated that Vice Chancellors are appointed on political considerations. This has far reaching consequences on university administration. Apart from bitterness it generates, infighting, rancor among contending interest groups make the system ungovernable and eventually erode the so much cherished University autonomy.

This study was therefore an attempt to look into the activities of Governing Councils in the management of federal and state Universities in the North Central States, Nigeria. In doing this, the study examined the laws establishing the governing Councils and the functions they are required to perform. Literature revealed a preponderance of problems and public agitations arising from activities of the Governing Councils like appointment of vice chancellor, takeover of senate responsibilities, relationship between councils and staff union members, staff and students personnel administration matter and management of university funds among others.  This created the need to look into the activities of the Governing Councils in order to establish the extent of their activities in university administration.

In the studies reviewed, although much has been generally written on governing councils on various areas of university administration, there seems to be no commonality on the activities of governing councils, suggesting more vigorous research in these areas. It was also revealed that, no attempt has been made by any writer to harmonize different views on activities of governing Councils in University governance. Furthermore, researchers who have written on law (Act) establishing the governing Councils were more on appointment of Vice- Chancellor, neglecting other aspects of the Act.

Also, internet and library search on activities of governing Councils in the study area – North Central States, appear to have been disquietingly neglected. Again, evidence available in the literature based on studies done in Australia on governance and performance; an empirical study of Australian universities by  Chitra (2011);United kingdom on; managing successful universities by Shattock (2003); Australia on; issues in Australian universities by  Coaldrake, Stedman and Little (2003); Malaysia on; University governance and development autonomy by  Asimiran and Sufean (2009), Uganda on; Developing and sustaining effective governance by Asiimwe (2012); and Nigeria on; Governance of federal universities in Nigeria by Jamila (2010), Management styles in Nigerian Universities by Ekong (2001), Autonomy and management of federal universities under the universities autonomy Acts by Oshio (2004) clearly show absence of cogent literature on activities of governing councils in the management of Universities. These observed gaps therefore created the need for this study and also seeks to make a contribution.

Statement of the Problem

There has been a general outcry by the academic, non-academic and students over poor managerial activities by Governing Councils evident in the Universities which in turn have a concomitant effect on the general growth in the smooth running of the universities. Some writers have said that the decay experienced both in academic performance by students in particular and the backwardness of the Universities in general is due to the fact that activities of the Governing Councils in the management of the Universities are a concern. This therefore leaves the Vice- Chancellors, Stakeholders and the Councils in perpetual conflict rather than a harmonious working relationship in administration of the Universities. The crux of the matter lies in the supposition that Governing Councils interfere with the appointment of Vice Chancellors, take over the Senate responsibilities, maintain hostile relationship with   University Staff Unions. Governing Councils’ Activities are said to be in doubt on staff personnel administration, especially in the areas of  recruitments, appointments and promotions of staff. Governing Council Activities on Students personnel Administration especially in the areas of admission, discipline and welfare of students which in most cases are discriminately done are also a concern; and Governing Councils’ Activities on financial management are said to have led to lack of accountability, misappropriation of the university funds, wasteful spending, corruption, among other financial vices of the university are some of the concerns that have been expressed by stakeholders. The consequences of these are the abandonment of critical projects in the university that have direct bearing on the development of university education. What are therefore the powers, functions and the general mandate of the Governing Councils with regard to University administration, particularly as it affects their activities on the appointment of Vice- Chancellors, responsibilities of the Senate, University Staff Union activities, Staff Personnel Administration, Students personnel Administration and financial management of the University?  It is therefore important to look into the activities of the Governing Councils, vis-à-vis their mandates or functions in the administration of Universities, with a view to determining the extent the Councils perform their functions. This may help to explain in part, the various lapses currently being experienced in the University system particularly in the North Central States which have generally been classified as educationally disadvantaged.

The problem of the study posed in a question form is: what is the extent of Governing Councils activities on University administration in the areas of appointment of Vice Chancellors, responsibilities of the Senate, relationship with the University Staff Unions, Staff Personnel Administration, Students’ Personnel Administration and Financial Management of the University?

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to look into the activities of Governing Councils in the management of Universities in the North Central States, Nigeria.

Specifically, the study sought to;

  1. Examine the extent of Governing Councils’ activities on appointment of Vice Chancellors.
  2. Find out the extent of governing councils’ activities on the responsibilities of the Senate
  3. Examine the extent of Governing Councils’ activities on the university staff unions
  4. Establish the extent of Governing Councils’ activities on staff personnel administration
  5. Establish the extent of Governing Councils’ activities on student’s personnel administration.
  6. Ascertain the extent of Governing Councils’ activities in carrying out financial management in the university administration.

Significance of the Study

University Governing Council activities are veritable tools on which administrative and academic programs in the Universities are anchored on. In this study practical and theoretical significance were explained.

Theoretically, several postulations and suggestions have been made on how organizations, should be run effectively and efficiently. For the purpose of this study, Max Weber’s theory of bureaucracy is significant, because the theory provided insights into the current activities of the governing councils in the management of Universities in North Central States. The study will particularly contribute to empirically-driven theoretical body of knowledge on Max Weber’s delegation of authority and officialdom in management of complex organizations like the University. Max Weber’s theory is particularly important since it encourages compartmentalization of governance for effective service delivery and it does this through delegation and decision making, planning, organizing, coherence and direction as major vehicles for growth and development.

In practical terms, the study will be of immense benefit to the governing councils, university managers, students of educational administration and planning, Association of educational administration and planning and further researchers.      The findings of the study will expose to the governing councils, the laws guiding the appointment of vice chancellors, their responsibilities to the senate and their functions in carrying out financial management in the university administration. The findings of this study will enlighten the university managers viz-the vice chancellors, Deans of faculties, directors of institutes and Heads of Department on the principles guiding their functions. It will help them to maintain the principle of division of labour and other work ethics.

The findings of this study will be a complete guide to the students of educational administration and planning on the university administration which includes staff personnel administration, student personnel administration and other university activities. The findings of the study will also guide the further researchers and provide insights on the ways of strengthening the senate as a vibrant academic body of the university. The study will be made available to the libraries to serve as reference material for researchers.



Scope of the Study

The study was carried out in north central states, Nigeria on the activities of Governing Councils. The study also focused on Governing Councils’ activities on the Appointment of Vice-Chancellors, governing councils activities on the responsibilities to the Senate, Governing Councils’ activities on the University Staff Unions, Governing Councils’ activities on the Staff Personnel Administration, Governing Councils’ activities on the Students’ Personnel Administration; and Governing Councils’ activities in carrying out Financial Management in the university administration .

Research Questions

The study was guided by the following research questions:

  1. To what extent do Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and States Universities affect the appointment of Vice- Chancellors?
  2. To what extent do Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and State Universities support the Senate responsibilities?
  3. To what extent do Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and State Universities support University Staff Union Activities?
  4. To what extent do the Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and State Universities influence Staff Personnel Administration?
  5. To what extent do the Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and State Universities affect students’ personnel administration?
  6. To what extent do the Governing Councils’ activities in Federal and State Universities support the carrying out of financial management in University administration?