Tertiary Education Trust Fund says it has spent over N7.2 billion to address tuition and other expenses of over 1,000 postgraduate students on its scholarship roll in foreign institutions.
The Executive Secretary of the fund , Prof Suleiman Bogoro, said the Board of Trustees of the fund has decided to henceforth, send the tuition of all scholars on its scholarship scheme directly to their institutions of learning abroad.
Bogoro, who spoke at a media parley with Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria, ECAN, said the issue of stranded scholars was one of the ill-informed policy changes he met upon assuming duty on the 21st of January 2019, adding that between 2014 and 2016 there was nothing of such.
According to him, “Earlier in the year, the scholars had become stranded due to policy failure at TETFund and carried out protests in some Nigerian embassies abroad, demanding action to assuage their plight”
He added that one of the challenges faced by TEFund scholars abroad was the policy of allowing only three years period for PhD programmes as contained in the scholarship agreements.
He explained further that it was difficult to complete PhDs in three years in some countries, he disclosed that after approaching the Board of Trustees of TETFund, it approved that the duration of PhD scholarships be scaled up to four years.
The TETFund boss noted that all PhD scholars who left the country from 2018 and 2019, left on a scholarship of four years.
Bogoro however pointed out that a significant percentage of stranded scholars was due to the fault of their beneficiary institutions back home, adding that institutions were in the habit of requesting their students to proceed ahead of TETFund’s approval of their scholarships.
He also described as an embarrassing situation the level of malpractice in conferences attendance among lecturers, lamenting that it was sadly the practice of some to receive monies and send proxies to sign attendance at conferences for them abroad.
He said the fund is ready to take actions to end such malpractices.
The executive secretary also revealed the level of rot in contract execution in some beneficiary institutions, noting that a financial and forensic audit has been carried out.
He warned that sanctions would be applied on defaulting institution including outright stoppage of intervention activities in such institutions.
Bogoro further stated that these observed infractions informed the reason for constituting an audit committee to take stock of the intervention activities of the fund for two decades, a move most public agencies are not keen to make.