Anchor University Lagos: The journey to first class products

WorldStage Newsonline– It’s possible to pass by the gate of Anchor University, Ayobo, Ipaja, Lagos and overlook it as that of a private mansion in the urban setting of a very vibrant city. The gate that is always closed unless one approaches and seeks the attention of the security lacks the human and vehicular traffic you will find at the University of Lagos, Akoka, some kilometers away in the interior part of the Nigeria’s largest city.

After gaining entrance, before the next level of clearance, one is going to be greeted by beautiful scenery of tidy lawn, flowers buildings with an air of hospitality that can be mistaken for a five star hotel.

A private Christian school founded in 2014 by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, behind the beautiful scenery are daily uncommon activities to live the vision of a legend known globally for strict spiritual teaching.

Anchor University campus

With Pastor William Folorunso Kumuyi, the 80 years old founder of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, as the Chancellor of the school, the high expectation from it to be a citadel of discipline may not be misplaced after all.

In the campus, from the most senior staff down to most junior ones, the way they conduct themselves seems to reflect a consciousness of an institution in the shadow or sprouting from the branch of a legend.

Kumuyi

If it is about sprawling campuses and large number of students, the school cannot compete with the public universities and many private ones in the country. But if it is in the area of raising young men and women who are academically sound and spiritually vibrant, maybe it has a chance.

 The Vice Chancellor, Joseph Afolayan  who spoke to WorldStage in his expansive well designed office said that the university, in a bid to function with its institutional vision and mission, which is to train men and women who are built in character, competence and courage, does not give-out unmerited grades.

Anchor University held its first graduation in July this year with only 63 products out of which 23 were conferred with First Class distinctions and 27 had Second Class Upper.

Professor Joseph Atolayan

This translated to a rare feat of 36.5% First Class products and 79.4% with minimum of Second Class Lower degrees.

It’s easy to connect this with the fact that its chancellor, Kumuyi respected globally for his gospel crusades graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1967 with a first-class honours degree in mathematics and emerged as the overall best graduating student in that year. In 2013, Foreign Policy magazine listed him among the “500 most powerful people on the planet”.

BUILDING A TRADITION OF MERIT AND HARD WORK

The  management of the Anchor University revealed that the institution is not in the tradition of gifting scores to students who do not merit it, stating that students who graduated with first class and other grades achieved such feat by merit and evident hard work.

Afolayan told WorldStage that most students that got admitted into the faith-based University, were believed to have written their Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination (JAMB), and their West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), by themselves and there should be no doubt why the university should have a long statistics of students graduating with first class because the success of the students was as result of their hard work and diligence; and that the university will never “give away” grades to any student.

“On our admission requirement, we don’t compromise it. If student are coming to the university and they did JAMB and O’ level on their own without cheating, you won’t come to the University to be a failure, so people shouldn’t be surprised. If you are coming to the University to learn, there is no big deal, so people shouldn’t be surprised.

“It’s a matter for strategizing and positioning yourself for the reality on ground. For Anchor University, our own product can prove their certificate. The lecturers give course compact for the students, so it not difficult to get first class.

“When people are complaining, I as a vice Chancellor, I can say that I am proud of the degrees the students have worked for. Some of our graduates are already working, some that they did IT, their organizations have retained them, if they don’t have anything in their heads the organizations won’t retain them.

“I want to assure you that you should be confident that you are in the right place. We don’t give marks to our students, they earned what they have, they worked for it.”

In a separate interview with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Johnson Fatokun, he noted that the University graduates had been professionally groomed over the years and the management can vouch for the products anywhere and anytime.

In his words: “from day one, we have always drummed into the ears of our students, unlike any other private Universities, this University will not dole out mark to anyone. You must work for what you earn. We give them every opportunity; we give them good staff.

Professor Johnson Fatokun

 “There is none of them you will pick and give a test and you wouldn’t know that this is a first-class student. If you check through all the Faculties from Science to Humanities to Management Science, they are all exceptional. Anywhere they go to, I can vouch for them; they will stand out.”

GUIDED BY MISSION AND VISION

Speaking about the vision and mission of the university, Prof Afolayan further made known that the university’s operations were strictly piloted by the mission and vision as ordered by the Chancellor of the university, which is to cultivate character and to transform human life holistically.

According to him, “our own vision is to make this place a citadel of learning, where all our programs are holistically transformed and developed. This means your soul; spirit and body are well addressed because whatever you are doing in Anchor University, you have spiritual impact, academic impact and social impact.

 “By November /December last year, we had a call to a competition. All the universities in Nigeria, they sent us a copy of it, they call it Science and Technology Innovation Challenge (STIC). In this competition, students were meant to compete, bring out ideas and think outside of the box and bring something that can impact on national development.

“When I got the letter, I brought up the challenge to show that Anchor University is not just existing as a university, we are existing to make a difference.

“Even though the time frame was very tight, students from the Department of Science and science Education came up with three proposals for that competition. After they sent out the proposals, there were about 511 submissions of different projects by students of various institutions. Of the 511 projects submitted out of 59 institutions, Anchor was one of the best 15 with proposals approved to get to the semifinal stage right now.

“When the proposal crosses to the next level, the University would be seen as a center sponsored by that body to be doing research, and the students involved would get cash awards. What we are doing in this University, students are benefiting.

AULlSSDA hub

“We are training students in order to handle situations like this. We are impacting the spiritual life and also the physical because we interact and socialize.”

TALL VISION TO CORRECT EDUCATIONAL AND LEADERSHIP DECADENCE IN THE WORLD

Mr Olaniyi Ayodeji, a non-teaching staff, an electrician, who spoke to WorldStage narrated how the University begun, stating that it is poised to train students who are educationally and morally upright.

He said: “I joined this institution about two years ago and I must say that what I have seen and what I have witnessed firsthand, is that this University is going places. It was set up to correct the educational as well as leadership decadence in the world today where men without character and principles are leading.

“The quality of staff that are employed here are top notch. Even the least of us all, we know how hard it was trying to get an employment here because the University always tries to get the best for her students.

“You see, many students do not really appreciate the efforts employed by the school to train them. Some of the students feel the school is unnecessarily harsh and wicked. But the truth is, the institution started on a very good foundation and it is set to train men and women who are outstanding in character, who are competent enough and have the courage to challenge the odds.”

CUTTING- EDGE TECHNOLOGY

Speaking on the facilities in the institution, Ayodeji noted that the University has a vision to operate and train students with cutting-edge technology in an environment conducive for educational and moral trainings.

“One thing that sets the University apart from others is the fact that it is doing all it can to make sure that its environment is conducive and facilitated with the right equipment and technologies. For example, we run a 24/7 hours electricity and it comes with a huge cost. The method of teaching is superb and it is facilitated with intelligent boards. Most of the classrooms are facilitated with air condition and the qualities of lecturers are indisputably good.”

Speaking to Onuh Esther, one of the library staff, she explained that one of the major challenges facing university education in Nigeria is that some programmes are not demand-driven. She stated that AUL offers programmes that would equip students to be industry employable.

University library

She said: “Universities are structured in a way that there are different programs, some are highly professional, that even before you graduate you are already using your learning experience, but not all programs are like that, though incidentally, they are all in the curriculum of the University.

“Coming to Anchor University, you will discover that sometimes, what somebody comes out with is not what he will be doing after the graduation, but going through the university will develop your intellectual capacity to think and be innovative. Having a B.sc or B.A in an area, on your own, you are able to do many things.

 “We also run the entrepreneurship program and that unit is to train students to acquire a skill in one area or the other, depending on their interests. Our focus in the university is Outcome Based Education, where at the end of students’ educational experiences, they would have achieved the goal of being developed in attitude, knowledge and skills.”

ZERO TOLERANCE FOR BAD BEHAVIORS

An Admissions Officer, Mr. Opeibe Ayodeji said that the university has zero tolerance for bad behaviors, and that the university was set to hit the ground running, to be the best among its equals and that the university is open to all, irrespective of religious affiliations.

According to him, our admission is open to people from different religions, but they would have to abide by our rules and regulations. We are strict with our dress code which is that students have to dress responsibly to conform to the image of God.

“When students are to be expelled, we invite the parents and we hand over the letter and their child to them. One of the serious challenges I have had is meeting with those parents because it is not easy to tell a parent that your child has committed an offence and he has to go. It is a very serious matter and it is at that point some parents will weep and it’s not like if one is heartless because I have children and grandchildren, but looking at what has happene, it is not the decision I have made, but that of the management.

“If it were to be a secular institution, once you are expelled, nobody cares, but here, we ensure that they are handed over to their parents. We also don’t retain students that commit offence because if you look at the student handbook, where we have various acts of indiscipline, misconducts that students can commit and there we also have the penalties.

University sport facilities

“If you also understand, not all are expelled because if we are to be expelling students for offences committed, it wouldn’t go well. For instance there are some offences that are committed and the penalty is to do campus services or cleaning for a week or two, but there are other offences that are committed where a student will be suspended or rusticated, but in the cases of expulsion, that is the degree of the offence committed and it’s not like the management just want to give that type of punishment, but it has been indicated in the student handbook.

“And that is how it is all over the world where we have campuses. You see, every Monday Bible Study  is an avenue to teach student to follow the ways of God and abstain from bad things.”

However, Nsikak, a product of the school believed there are rooms for improvement, particularly in the areas of communication between the management and the students.

He said, “You know, in every organization, you will find one challenge or the other. In fact, no organization is challenge-free. Anchor University is just coming up, just about 4 years. We are not oblivious of the fact that there are challenging situations. I know that there’s a capable management team led by the Vice Chancellor to curb issues that rise up.

“One of the challenges in Anchor University, I think, is inadequate student-management rapport. When there’s no students-management rapport, it makes it difficult to inculcate the core values of the university into the students.

“I think management can create this rapport by frequently calling a ‘town-hall meeting’ to have a discussion session and knowing what are the plights of the students.

“You will agree with me that students have a voice in the university, not only the management. If all the students block the gate, stopping the staff from entering the university in the morning until their demands are met, the university will not function that day.

“I’m saying this out of experience. This happened in my place of primary assignment, where the students locked the main gate and stopped the staff from entering, protesting that they didn’t have light, security and water, demanding that the VC must come and address them.

“This is just to let you know that students have a say in the University, not only the management.”

 INVESTING TO ENCOURAGE RESEARCH

Speaking to one of the University’s lecturers, Professor Olawale Awe, he pointed out that research is the bedrock of a progressive university education and that the university is investing so much to encourage research and provide cutting-edge technologies on the campus.

Awe said: We have forms that are made available for staff who would want to undertake a research which they applied for. Depending on the volume of money that is available, some of them have benefited from going abroad and we allow them by giving them a space of some months or a year to go and come back. The management from what I know is focused in going with with technological trends. This is to bring in world class facilities to aide learning on Anchor University campus. 

“Anchor University Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Science & Data Analysis (AULISSDA) established by me is one of AUL’s research hubs. We also have those who come from other countries to carry out research, some are still here. This is a university that is given to encouraging research and the V.C is always challenging our staff to do that because if you don’t do that, how will you have quality publication where you are able to bring out new things? So, staff members are encouraged to do that.”

AULlSSDA hub

SERVING GOD WHILE STUDYING

Clement Ademola, a student of Accountancy, expressed joy over being part of AUL, saying that his admission into the University was a great privilege.

He said: “Let me count it as a privilege and honor to be part of the students of the University. When I was given an admission, there was this excitement of coming to a private university, you know, and when I came, I saw the environment as a conducive atmosphere to achieve my vision.

“Studying at Anchor University helped me to actualize and maximize the potentials in me in various areas. The school envisioned to be a citadel of learning for holistic transformation and human development, really shaped me and brought out my potential to a full manifestation.

“Studying at Anchor University has helped me to understand the importance of serving God while studying. Thus, bringing out the leadership potential in me.

“I’ll say it’s worth it studying in AUL. AUL has all it takes to build the total man in you. But you know, it depends on the individual involved, I mean the student, to decide whether he or she desires to succeed.”

University campus

David Peter, a graduate of Micro Biology from Anchor University also said that studying in Anchor university was something special to him because he was properly groomed. He said: “Studying in Anchor University for me was a great experience. Even though it was not an easy journey, Anchor University is a place for every child. It is different from the rest. It is a wellspring where educational values and moral values ooze.”

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