Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Time for the Establishment of Endowment Fund in All Nigerian Universities is Now

The Time for the Establishment of Endowment Fund in All Nigerian Universities is Now

Times are changing fast in Nigeria and with the unpredictable future in our economy, the Federal and State governments are faced with competing priorities as it relate to share of funding and resources.

Nigerian higher institutions, the public universities in particular, for far too long the government remains the main source of university funding. Now that the nation is experiencing severe economic downturn, our universities must begin to look inward and outward for alternative sources of funding to meet the cost of running a quality university.
Nationwide, the universities are suffering from teaching and learning infrastructural shortage, and unable to fully drive innovations.

In our new digital world, Nigerian universities cannot count themselves as frontiers of technology, library resources, scientific institutes and high level human assets.
The cost of university has been rising, even as parental incomes remain stagnant and many States continue to experience declining finances.

Our population is growing with speed, so also is our student population. Some universities have no choice but to increase tuition just to meet some of their basic needs like electricity, water, housing and salaries.

The rise of new global competitors in university education is resulting in the best and brightest students and academics, leaving Nigeria on an hourly and daily basis, to other African and Euro-American universities where quality university practices are surging.

The decades-old partnership between universities and the federal/State government is at risk financially due to hard times.

As Nigerians, we love education; as such we must do everything to make university education affordable for our students through quality university environments.
It is important to state that no amount of industrial actions by faculty and staff, would force the government to cough up money it does not have, and no matter how unprecedented the strike lingers, such action will only continue to put our universities at great financial risk and in a state of embarrassment.

We need to aggressively seek out new and nontraditional sources of revenue such as endowment for improved money and long-term financial strength. It is time that universities drastically seek out and become significantly dependent on endowment fund.
The world is now in a state of global interconnectedness, and to reduce our financial pressures across all universities, endowment which is a critical strategic asset for university growth and longevity is worth creating and pursuing aggressively.

In a simple way but with complex features, an endowment means money or other financial assets that is donated to universities or other higher institutions. The main intention of the endowment is to invest it, so that the total asset value will result to an inflation-adjusted principal amount, along with additional income which will be used for further investments and additional expenditures.

Generally, endowment funds follow a suitably strict policy allocation, which is a set of long-term rules that dictates the asset allocation that will yield the targeted return requirement without taking on too much risk. Most endowments have guidelines that state how much of each year's investment income can be used up which usually has a percentage.

Donors of endowment can sometimes restrict universities on how they can spend this money. For example, donors can decide to use a portion of an endowment's scheduled income to provide funding for endowed professorships, which are used to attract world-class lecturers. For example, investment earnings on a gift now or in the future can be mainly for water supply water which cannot be spent to renovate offices in the university.

It is important that when we get a donation we must hold the endowment gift(s) in trust for the benefit of generation after generation of students and academics.
Setting up of an endowment is a University-wide task force that will involve continuing discussion, and how to make choices about the financial future of Nigerian universities.

We will be up to the task of getting private efforts to fund our public and private universities; we will seek out generous donors locally and internationally.
We will uncover persons of goodwill including former students, self-made wealthy hands, and we will aggressively compete for endowment money yearly, engage in direct solicitations, promote fundraising events, and undertake international visits to private citizens of Nigeria nativity, African American backgrounds, wealthy persons and corporations across the globe.

There are donors in Nigeria and beyond who are ready to give endowment gifts with specific objectives and requirements.

Let us face the bitter truth  while Nigeria is not quite the most corrupt society on earth, Nigeria's corruption is very challenging and is just as rampant in our universities, as such we are seen as low trust nation. Therefore, we will put up strict standards backed by strict judicial and legal measures/monitoring those donations to a university and whatever earnings that money produces will be used only in service of the specified objectives.

It is a new time in Nigeria and our universities are capable of rebuilding public trust, national confidence, and international reliance.

Using the power and influence of positive psychology, universities should convince persons and corporations of goodwill including Nigerians, and Non-Nigerians to allow setting up foundation in their names which will attract money from them and those who are attracted to the work of names marking the foundations.

We can form foundations with endowment like library endowment, sanitation endowment, healthcare endowment, Anti-corruption  endowment, scholarships and professorships endowment, as well as endowment opportunities like endowed dormitory funds, building maintenance funds, research work and lecture series; all in accordance with the donor’s interests and objectives.

In many cases we can create endowment which generally carries the name of the person,   organization or corporation that the donor wishes to honor.
We can do this by setting up Donor Services offices in all universities marked with a modest endowment giving program, and find a potential donor or donors to help in matching funds program.

Through an office like donor relations and investment we will develop personal relationships with persons and organizations that encourage meaningful gifts of importance.

It is important that when we get a donation we must hold the endowment gift(s) in trust for the benefit of generation after generation of students and academics.
Through the  office we will develop personal relationships with persons and organizations  that encourages meaningful gifts of importance and now is the time state making a difference in  every Nigerian university with the mind set of approaching endowments with unbendable trust and the students in our minds at all times.


~ By Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi, a Florida based Forensic/Clinical and Public Policy Psychologist, and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. Jos5930458@aol.com, drjohneoshodi.com.  

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