Some of you may recall that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, the Proprietors of Veritas University appointed me as the Vice-Chancellor of Veritas University Abuja to succeed Prof Michael Kwanachie who completed his tenure on September 2018. I want to thank the CBCN for this privilege to serve. I want also to acknowledge the great work done by my immediate predecessor not only in transferring the University from its temporary site to Abuja but also by stabilizing it in the new campus.
It is my great pleasure to write this letter to parents and guardian of our students in Veritas University as we come to the end of the 2018/2019 academic session. I deem it necessary as a way of opening up a channel of communication between the university management and you, the parents and guardians of our students. This communication is very important as the formation of students requires the collaboration of all stakeholders.
Some Highlights of 2018/2019 Session
Within the year under review we recorded some remarkable progress both in academic and physical transformation of our environment. Our programs that went for NUC accreditation were successful. Many of our programs have got approval for Masters’ degrees and we are looking forward to starting PhD programs in Economics and Political Science which have just been resource-verified. We are looking beyond the NUC minimum standards. We also witnessed overall improvements in physical facilities and utilities including improvements in classroom facilities, water and electricity supply in the university. A new female hostel was commissioned to ease accommodation constraints and our ultra-modern Multipurpose Hall has also been commissioned. Our Computer Science Laboratory is now fully networked and functional. The Mass Communication Department Studios like most other Departments were completely furnished with modern communication equipment. Veritas Radio and TV are about to come on stream for limited broadcast
This year we celebrated an extraordinary academic excellence. Nine (9) of our students graduated in first class honours. The convocation lecture to celebrate this achievement was excellently delivered by Dr. Adora Umeoji of Zenith Bank. The Chairman of the Bank, Chief Jim Ovia who graced the occasion, awarded automatic employment opportunities in Zenith Bank to six of them from bank related programs. This event was covered by NTA local, NTA International, AIT, the Catholic Television, (CTV) and 15 other news media organizations.
Our Students’ Choir is reaching the skies! Their performance is simply scintillating. You need to watch your wards perform! Our Cultural Day this year was, to oversimplify, colorful. You needed to watch the student ‘Emir’ on live horse with his coterie advance majestically into the arena with royalty. Simply incredible! You certainly would not like to miss reading a report on this event masterfully crafted by Chinenye Ebube, a 200 level student of our Mass Communication Department (available on https://intervention.ng/16459/). It was a display of incredible talent. Not done yet. Our debating talents were on display during the inter-departmental debates this year won by the team from History and International Relations Department and composed of Thecla Orakwe, Joshua Ehikoya, Marycynthia Alago, Anastasia Ojobo, Johnson Whitney, Stanly Ntube, and Rita Edesiri. Their oratory is fit for the world stage. Of course our football and basketball teams participated in several Universities competitions and returned with laurels.
To reinforce academic performance, in addition to our seasoned professors and academics, we have been recruiting professionals in various fields, including, former Vice-Chancellors, professional diplomats, operators of media houses, and correspondents of international Media Organizations like VOA, former Accountant Generals, computer programmers and software developers, among others. This is consistent with our belief that effective learning must combine theory and professional experience.
Focus on Core Values
A key policy of Veritas University, according the vision of our Founding Fathers, is to provide an environment for students to realize their potentials through integrated formation that produces sound minds and character required to provide leadership in a fast changing society like ours. We thank you, the parents, who have identified with the core values of Veritas University by entrusting us with your wards to guide according to the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers. We want to reassure you that we are doing a great job of guiding the formation of your ward according these core values. To this end, in collaboration with Globethics.net based in Switzerland, from 2019/2020 session we are introducing Christian Ethics as a compulsory course for all 100 – 300 level students in Veritas University. The purpose is to ensure that our students imbibe basic ethics to guide their future social and professional lives. We believe that this is an important missing gap in the Nigerian higher education system and we are determined to fill it.
Discipline and Character Building
For us in Veritas University, discipline is simply the disposition to defer present gratification for a greater tomorrow. It is discipline that builds character. Without it we cannot achieve our dream in life. Indiscipline in any form harms everyone and is detrimental to our future. In the 2018/2019 academic session, some students breached the codes of behavior contrary to the core values of the university. According to the gravity of the breach, some were required to do community service within the university (planting trees, cleaning hostels, copying the Students’ Handbook, etc); some were suspended for short or extended period; and some, in more severe cases, were expelled from the university. In all cases, affected students had right to appeal to the Students’ Disciplinary Appeals Committee after they were convicted by the Students’ Disciplinary Committee. We would like to request parents and guardians not to put pressure on management to rescind disciplinary decisions taken by these committees or the Senate of the University when their wards are affected because it will impede justice and the smooth functioning of our university.
To underscore our emphasis on discipline, parents and guardians will receive two reports on their words every year: Academic Performance Report and Character Report. The Academic Performance Report will tell parents and guardians how seriously the student is taking their academic activities, while the Character Report will provide a summary of how responsible the candidate has been in their personal lives. We intend to enforce the rule in the university that a students who scores below a certain Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) will be required to withdraw. The students are also provided opportunity to evaluate their lecturers for the overall improvement of teaching and learning in the university.
According to the vision of our Founding Fathers, Veritas University should provide quality, and all-round formation. To achieve this vision, every undergraduate student of the university must be resident inside the university. This also imposes a huge demand for hostel accommodation. Currently the university can only accommodate about 2000. This also means that we are not able to accommodate all the students who would want to study in Veritas University. However, we are making serious efforts to build more hostels through Build Operate and Transfer (BOT). At the moment, two investors have signed MOUs with our University to build two hostels each with a capacity of 160 rooms. Two more are under negotiation and we hope to conclude these negotiations as soon as possible. These hostels are expected to be ready before the commencement of the 2020/2021 session. More investors are showing interest and we target to have a carrying capacity of 5000 students by year 2022. In the interim, a committee of the University is working hard to improve the existing hostel accommodation. They propose to carry out complete renovation of facilities in the hostels.
According to the vision of our Founding Fathers, Veritas University should provide quality education that is affordable to the rich and the poor, irrespective of gender and religion. This is why Veritas University charges one of the lowest fees among private universities in Nigeria. This also imposes a major constraint on our financial capacity to provide first class facilities required to provide first class quality education. While we are relying on investors to provide some of the physical infrastructure we need, the costs of running the university: paying high quality professors, lecturers and administrators, providing and maintaining municipal services in the university and overhead costs have escalated in the last couple years. We appreciate the contributions of the bishops but we still have huge funding gaps in our budgets. The bishops have been reluctant to approve increase in fees but it has become clear that the current financing situation is unsustainable.
We appreciate that the economy is biting hard on many families but we must continue to make sacrifices to give our children a future to look forward. Quality education remains the currency of tomorrow and the only viable inheritance you can leave behind for your children.
Marginal Increases in Fees
Given the above, we are effecting marginal increases in our fees. These increases have been calibrated by program and range from about 5% for programs in humanities to about 20% for programs in the more laboratory intensive science programs. We plead for your kind understanding and appreciation of the circumstances under which we operate. It is all about the future of our children. To lighten the burden, parents and guardians are allowed to make the payment in two installments, one in October and the other second semester in March. We continue to guarantee you stable academic calendar. Our academic year begins in October and ends in July each year. The duration of our programs are predictable, a four-year program ends in four years not in four and half years.
The 2018/2019 academic session was exciting and a period of stabilization for the current administration. The 2019/2020 academic session promises to be even more exciting. We are aiming for the skies, to remain in the front pack of private universities in the country. With your kind cooperation, we intend to introduce new initiatives to improve learning, character building, and research outcomes of the students and the university in general. Our burning desire is to give our students the standard of education some of you had the privilege to enjoy in great universities abroad. We plan to improve services delivery in the university through greater opportunities for training of our staff. Our academic activities will be ICT driven in tune with the culture of the young generations. We strongly believe in the saying that “there are no dull students, only dull classrooms”.
One of the key areas we want to focus more attention in the coming academic year beginning in October 2019 is our mentoring system. Some of our departments already have Whatsapp platforms for interactions among students, staff and parents. We intend to make our mentoring system more personalized in a way that enables the student to take responsible decisions. This will be done through establishing greater bonds between staff and students.
We also look forward to providing students more opportunities to activate their talents. We shall place more emphasis on entrepreneurship. We have recruited experts in the field and are providing facilities for this purpose. Every student of the university will be required to undertake one entrepreneurial activity or the other.
We are also widening the space for choice of programs. Our market surveys show that a large number of prospective students want to study Automotive Engineering, Computer Engineering, Dramatic Arts and Film making, Hotel and Hospitality Management and Law. Prospective graduate students may also want to look up our website: www.veritas.edu.ng for our new postgraduate programs. Veritas University has just received positive assessment to commence the Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB) program in the 2019/2020 session. This is a big relief for prospective students who have had challenges meeting JAMB admission requirements. The students who successful go through this one year intensive program will be admitted into the second year of their chosen discipline! Admissions into this program in Veritas University will start in October 2019. For further details check our Website: www.veritas.edu.ng
Parents and guardians who may want to make enquiries may send text messages or, during work hours, call the receptionists’ numbers: 0803283817 or 0802059427, for enquiries about opportunities and events in the university. Our students are looking forward to being part of an exciting academic year ahead in Veritas University. The dreams of our Founding Founders for a great Catholic University is certainly in the horizon!!!
Rev Fr Hyacinth Ichoku
Professor of Economics
Vice-Chancellor Veritas University, Abuja.