By Ugboaja, Stanley Uzoamaka
The Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Abdullahi Bala, fsssn has unveiled a benevolence fund set up to assist indigent students.
The unveiling of the scheme took place during the 2rd and 3rd Annual Institutional Performance Review Retreat held at the PTDF Chemical Engineering Lecture Theatre, Main Campus on Monday, November 29, 2021.
Speaking at the event, the Vice-Chancellor stated that the University Benevolence Fund was introduced to address the growing trend of many students being forced to abandon their studies or drop out of the University due to their poor financial status and inability to fund their tuition, adding that the Fund would provide loans, advice and assistance to indigent students within the guidelines that would be developed by the University Students Financial Aid Committee (USFAC).
“The University Students Financial Aid Committee is to provide regulations, oversight and management for the Fund. It is the intention of Management to ensure the independent of the Committee and to immune it against unnecessary bureaucratic encumbrance. Hence, the decision to appoint an external person as the chair of the Committee.
“The inclusion of students in important policy processes in the University has received tremendous attention under us. Several students informally work with senior academics across the campus. Opportunities are increasingly provided within the University for student volunteering and internship. For example, about 20 students participated as volunteering members of the Committee on Performance Evaluation, Documentation and Publication. Not only did this allow them build capacity and experience, it made it possible for them to directly meet, interrogate and score the performance of very senior officers of the University,” the Vice-Chancellor disclosed.
Further, Prof. Bala expressed optimism that stakeholders of the University would generously contribute to the Fund, while enjoining the Senate, Congregation, Convocation, Cooperative societies and the religious bodies in the University to sensitize and rally members towards the contribution.
“Already, the policy provides for students’ contribution through 20 percent of the Students’ Union dues. I believe that, in the future, the Fund will grow and become strong enough to receive the scholarship and similar financial benefits awarded to students by the University for disbursement to approved student beneficiaries,” he stated.
Additionally, the University helmsman disclosed that the scheme will also provide loans to students of the University without interest.
On the importance of the retreat, the Vice-Chancellor stated that the retreat would afford the University a veritable platform for stock-taking, noting that officers saddled with different responsibilities would give account of their stewardship in the last two years under review.
“I hope that the various presentations will enable us identify the gaps that need to be addressed to make our organization continue its unstoppable march to greatness in line with the vision of the founding fathers,” he enthused.
The University administrator stated that over 180 participants are expected at the retreat as against the 63 that attended that of 2019.
“This year’s edition will have as part of its activities the presentation of the Report of Institutional Self-Evaluation undertaken by the Committee on Performance Evaluation, Documentation and Publication, the presentation of performance reports by various offices in six thematic areas, six discussion sessions, launching of four University policies, launching of the University Benevolence Fund and the One Programme, One Product Policy as well as the presentation of the 1st Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation Awards,” he revealed.
Meanwhile, Prof. Bala stated that the University Management has accepted the findings and recommendations of the Committee for the award of the 1st Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation to deserving departments, staff and students who, through their work and devotion, have contributed to different aspects of the development and good image of the University, especially between December, 2017 and December, 2020.
“Universities all over the world have the triple mandate of teaching, research and community service. Too often, we tend to dwell so much on the first two at the expense of the third. FUT, Minna is closing in on four decades of existence; it is therefore, sufficiently mature to begin to impact visibly and meaningfully on its immediate community, and indeed the nation at large, in terms of the production, promotion and provision of goods and services for socio-economic development,” the VC added.
Also speaking, Chairman of the Committee which developed the Students Support Services Policy and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Emmanuel Emeka Udensi, fnip, said the Benevolence Fund would address a major pain-point for indigent students. Prof. Udensi reiterated that students of the University would also be granted interest-free loans to fund their final year projects and to cater for any other unforeseen circumstances.
The highlight of the opening session of the retreat was the unveiling of the Report of Institutional Self-Evaluation and Midterm Performance Assessment of the 2017 to 2020 Vision Statement of the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Bala.
Equally important to note, the Vice-Chancellor also presented certificates of commendation to some departments, Centres, and other individuals for exceptional service delivery as well as those who won international fellowships.
The five-day retreat will end on Friday, December 3, 2021, with a resolution on the way forward in propelling the University to greater heights to be issued at the end of the retreat.