The Vice Chancellor, Abia State University, Uturu, Prof. Uchenna E. Ikonne said that his administration has improved the status of the University in service delivery to the stakeholders in line with the mandate of an academic institution of Teaching, Research and Community Service.
Prof. Ikonne stated this in an exclusive interview with ABIA ONLINE revealing that the University under him has introduced the Faculty of Engineering comprising six Departments of Mechanical, Computer, Civil, ICT, Electrical Electronics and Surveying and Geo-infomatics. He said this has provided students the opportunity to go into creative thinking as Engineering drives the industry He expressed the view that graduates from the ABSU Engineering Faculty would major players in the Enyimba Economic City which Governor Ikpeazu has brought into Abia State.
The Vice Chancellor further informed that under his watch, the Medical College of the University secured full accreditation which in turn increased the admission quota of the Medical School for the first time in over 15 years from 75 to 120.
Beaming with smiles he said “For us it is very unprecedented because it is higher than most Federal Universities and this is because of the quality of our infrastructure, the quality of staffing we have brought into the school. That is a major achievement because the high demand for Medical training from most homes is tremendous. With that we were able to satisfy the yearnings of both parents and candidates who are eminently qualitied to read Medicine but because chances are not there.”
Continuing he said “Apart from that, we have introduced some ancillary courses that can act as pre-med courses that if you don’t get into the main course, you can do such as Anatomy, Physiology, Nursing, you can go into Medical Lab, Optometry has been there all this while and now we have brought in Pharmacy. Pharmacy as you know is a component of Medical Sciences.” He observed that with the introduction of Pharmacy and subsequently bringing a foremost Professor of Pharmacistical Sciences in the person of Prof. Oleka Udeala as the pioneer Dean of the Faculty, the Faculty is attracting big names associated with the Dean.
Ikonne also asserted that his coming into the helm of affairs has changed the way of Service delivery which he said was the most important to students who, as matter of entitlement and right, deserve good services, adding that the University under his predecessor, introduced what he called ‘E-Administration’ which his administration has perfected to the point that ‘no student has to stand before anybody to ask for one thing or the other.’
He explained that under the E-administration, everything is done online using the University portal.
“You can go to the Internet with your phone anywhere, your parents in the comfort of their homes can check the academic history of their children. You can pay your fees online, anywhere you are in the country, you can register your course online, even hostel accommodation is done online, you don’t need to meet the Dean for that. At the end of every examination, Senate has a specific time to submit the results- 4 weeks after exams, all final year results and 6 weeks after exams, all other level results must be submitted… and once the results are ready, we upload them online so that a student can go to the portal and access his result, parents too, if they have the pincode of the children can also go and access the result. That is the quality of service delivery,” He revealed.
The VC added that the University Senate now conducts its meeting without carrying papers around in what he termed ‘ e-senate.’ This he said, they do by assigning official email address to every Senate member through which minutes of meetings are sent to them maintaining that the culture of E-administration has come to stay in the University.
Of all the E-administration culture in ABSU, the most prominent according to Prof. Ikonne is transcript.
Hear him “Those days people are talking about transcript, this time, our alumni who are overseas, the UK, USA, would say they applied for their transcript or certificates, they are looking for a job or applying for something; six months, nine months, they wouldn’t hear from us- it was manual-they loose the admission and job they are applying for. But this time, within 24 hours, you can, anywhere you are, pay online, we have a special Office for Alumni electronic transcript, within 24 hours, we send it to you electronically. If you want the hard copy, we have Courier services that can send it to you,” He stated.
He pointed out that with the active participation of the University on the Internet, the Webometric ranking of the University rose from 93 when he took over in 2015 to now 30 after one year of being at the helm of affairs. He further observed “That shows you that of the over 200 Universities we have in Nigeria, they rated our graduates 17th on the Employability skill and knowledge.
Describing his time in the University as the ‘most glorious period,’ Ikonne informed that the strong foundation laid by the school has exploded and the university has been getting requests of affiliations from Universities abroad notable among which is the University of Mexico whom he said was wrote to them asking for affiliations.
In his words “The presence of the University in the Web, our research activities are in the Web. So anywhere in the world, you can click and know what is happening in the University; the profile of all academic staff are on the portal, somebody can from somewhere access the quality of our Teaching staff.
For example, we were here, the University of Mexico wrote us asking for affiliation. The reason, that they went to the profile and got a lecturer from here and they did their online research and the contribution of our staff was so qualitative. They said ‘any University employing this kind of staff, that is good if they should collaborete with the University of Mexico,’ so we are in affiliation with them because of our online activitie.” Ikonne stated.