No writer in possession of all his faculties will celebrate a Nigerian university, especially a public university at this critical time; arguably, this will be the most troubling question on the lips of my reading audience. In the truest sense of the word, no one should do this at a time when thousands of students who are supposed to be in the classrooms are wandering the streets but not talking about the exceptional state of University City of Ondo Medical Sciences in Ondo State, an institution whose operational philosophy is excellence or nothing, perhaps out of solidarity not because the university has not deserved it against and against everything.
It will interest you to know that UNIMED has run an uninterrupted academic calendar since it admitted its first batch of students some seven years ago, even during the COVID-19 pandemic which has crippled all activities around the world, and the ongoing industrial action by academic staff Union of Universities, which has entered its 6th month, the university is still running well. With this simple clarification, I hope you can now navigate with me with an unprovoked mindset as I do refractometric analysis of this budding but fast-paced training facility for medical and life science professionals. health.
As expected, the university is not immune to all the agonizing limitations experienced in the education sector in general. He only found the best way to climb the obstacles. Established in 2014 as the first university specializing in medicine and health sciences in Nigeria by the Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, UNIMED may not have lived up to the expectations of its founding fathers due to the usual “Nigerian factor” which are mostly poor funding and misplaced priority but one can only brag about the new ground the university is breaking daily despite all the shortcomings.
In a broader sense, the institution has grown from five courses at its inception to 26 fully accredited courses, two schools (of public health and graduate studies), nine faculties including the new Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation, which is the first of the kind. in any Nigerian university. He also graduated and inducted his first batch of nursing and physical therapy students, with medical and dental students performing very soon.
The university management, led by Adesegun Fatusi, professor of public health and community medicine at Obafemi Awolowo University of Ile-Ife, is seeking funds to pay salaries and other monthly obligations, including course accreditation. and the purchase of advanced training. amenities such as those in its ghost dental lab, the medical rehabilitation faculty gymnasium and pool, and the new molecular lab which is one of the best in the country, among others.
It should be noted that the “Friends of UNIMED” program, of which I am registered, is undoubtedly one of the few initiatives of this type in our public universities and it has helped the institution to maintain its enviable position among universities Nigerian, public and private. The idea is to target all stakeholders of the university by signing them up for a monthly or annual donation of cash and/or other items for as little as one thousand naira and this the institution follows religiously.
It is worth mentioning its access to the Higher Education Fund in less than six years of its existence, the donation of buildings by prominent natives of the Ondo Kingdom, such as the building of the Faculty of Basic Clinical Sciences which gave it was offered by Grand Chef Isaac Akintade and the Akindayomi Adeboye Intensive. care center, offered by the Redeemed Christian Church of God in honor of its founder, the late Pastor Josiah Akindayomi, originally from the city of Ondo.
The Olu Akinkugbe Pharmacy Education Trust will donate a N2.5 billion Naira Faculty of Pharmacy building to the permanent campus of the university. The management of the university is ambitious, I dare say, as they have done everything possible to move to the permanent site in Laje by 2024 when the university will be 10 years since its inception.
Without careful management of its meager resources, it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to hire the best minds at a time when the country is losing thousands of healthcare professionals every year to the UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia and others. It will also be difficult to implement creative teaching methods and introduce new curricula, which also call for some adulation. In fact, UNIMED offers the most medical and health science courses of any Nigerian university.
In the sciences, the institution offers chemistry with a medicinal chemistry option, physics with a medical physics option and computer science with an application to health sciences and still provides basic medical science courses such as anatomy, biochemistry and physiology while also offering physiotherapy, prosthetics and orthotics. under the new Faculty of Medical Rehabilitation. This is in addition to medicine, nursing and dentistry.
This remarkable feat caught the attention of local and international organizations in the education sector. In just seven years after its founding, the National Universities Commission in 2021 ranked UNIMED as the 19th best university in Nigeria, 3rd best among all specialist universities behind Federal University of Technology Akure and University of Technology Ladoke Akintola, Ogbomosho. In this category, you have universities of agriculture, universities of medicine and health sciences, and universities of technology, among others. If you extrapolate that, UNIMED is the first medical and health science university on the list. Also, it is the 1st of the three public universities in Ondo, the 2nd out of seven universities in Ondo State, private and public, and the 4th best out of over 40 public universities in Nigeria.
Previously, school leavers who wanted to study medicine but could not gain admission to public universities used to enroll in private universities. This is largely due to the high threshold set by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board and the cap set by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria on the number of medical students a university can admit, but this trend is fading. as thousands of young Nigerians whose parents are middle income earners now run to Ukraine to study medicine and return home for the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps and the next thing you hear from them is that they are about to leave the country after the residency for which they now rarely get a placement.
On average, Nigerians studying medicine at any Ukrainian university pay around $4,500 (N3,150,000) in tuition fees for one session. This excludes the cost of hostel accommodation, which is approximately $1,000 (N700,000), food and other miscellaneous expenses of $1,500 (N1,050,000). This calculation is set at N700 to $1, which is the current black market exchange rate, where most (if not all) of these people buy dollars. Looking at what most Nigerians pay for medical education in Ukraine, it is important to up our game and make Nigeria the destination of choice for medical education and training. Although the state of some of our teaching hospitals is appalling, at least we can achieve one thing for once: to train medical and health science professionals for the world.
Comparing UNIMED to the only state-owned medical university, for now, may make the institution one of the most affordable here. The Ebonyi State-owned King David University of Medical Sciences, Ohara charges around N3 million for Medicine, N2.5 million for Pharmacy, N2 million for Nursing, medical laboratory sciences, dentistry and others with the least tuition being N1 million. This is according to the university’s website. Although it has more funding needs than KDUMS, UNIMED still charges as low as N180,000 for some science courses.
What future for this pioneering institution specializing in medicine and health sciences? The university is not resting on its oars as it has concluded plans to roll out a set of groundbreaking initiatives in the field of medical education. According to the Vice-Chancellor, the new institute for advanced training in clinical sciences, which has finalized the master’s program in health law and policy, as well as master’s and doctoral programs in several clinical areas, will soon start.
We, Friends of UNIMED and indeed all stakeholders, look forward to the full start of operations of the new Center for Health Professions and Biomedical Education, which is being established to conduct the University Teacher Training Program of health and medicine in art and science. of teaching and learning. This center is fully staffed with educational technologists and media production experts along with a state-of-the-art integrated clinical simulation facility, fully functional radio and television studios. It has also developed an online certificate training program for university teachers and a ready-to-use diploma and master’s program in health professions education.
There is no doubt that the university still has a lot to do in the years to come to maintain these achievements and continue to serve as a model for more than seven universities of its kind across the country at this time.
Akinduro, a communications specialist, is the special assistant for media and digital communications to former governor Olusegun Mimiko