Nigeria’s National Universities Commission Data Base offers hosting to improve student access

Computing

Access to data online for graduates and undergraduates of Nigerian Universities had been a difficult exercise unlike what obtained in other climes. However, the establishment of National Universities Commission Data Base (NUCDB), a partnership between NUC and GUCCI-CHIS may have put an end to that plight.

The National Universities Commission Data Base (NUCDB) was established by the federal government to help enforce the laws establishing, regulating and sanitising the product of the universities for improved visibility among other objectives. And to ensure that the university system rides with the demands of 21st century realities, the project was conceived essentially as a public private partnership by NUC and its partner, GUCCI -CHIS to provide an online information system where valuable data are stored and retrieved.

At a stakeholders forum convened to sensitise the Committee of Vice Chancellors and information technology experts of universities on the new era about to begin, the former Minister of Education, Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu had stated that NUCDB would serve as a central data repository, with access to information on students, university staff, facilities, programmes, research and all other relevant activities of Nigerian universities. The deliverables among other things include: complete academic records for Nigerian university graduates past and present, automation of result gathering for present and future undergraduates and a standard information storage structure for use in Nigerian universities. This will encompass results, staff information, student information, facilities information, lecture information among others.

To guarantee the continued availability and update of information with integrity, state of the art central storage facility for the NUC and all approved Universities will be deployed. In his opening remarks, NUC Executive Secretary Professor Julius Okojie, explained the importance of the NUC database project as it will assist university graduates up to 25 years back seeking to check their entire academic records online, and that their universities will be able to forward transcripts in not later than three days on request. This is in addition to the fact that the biometrics data of current university students will be captured in line with global practices. The database also, will assist the NUC to enforce some of its regulations on standards, such as Carrying Capacity, Accreditation, Programme Audit and Staff Audit.

Okojie also contended that students could now check their results online immediately after every examination.

Incidentally, the project has taken off fully with the University of Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State, being the first to embrace the new NUC Database (NUCDB) system. The NUCDB provides among other things, full student bio-data and course registration, management of minimum and maximum course unit per student, dynamic inclusion of carry-over courses on registration and maintenance of a live online results system. A High speed V-SAT equipment and service for the university's NUCDB project were also commissioned at the kick-off.

The university community will also avail itself of the project's numerous benefits as it caters for students, academic staff, administrators, and research records as well as provide online access to a virtual library of international books and journals as subscribed to by the NUC. Data from each university will also be replicated by the NUC headquarters to provide a centralised storage repository for all university data. The NUCDB Portal is equipped with 1mbps satellite communication, a high-capacity database server, an Internet access server and more than 40 HP Compaq laptops for the smooth operation of data gathering and data collation. Live registration of students of the university commenced shortly after the official kick-off. Students of all Nigerian universities where NUCDB has commenced can now access their university NUCDB Portal by visiting www.nucdb.com, clicking 'universities' and clicking their university name.

Other universities that have taken advantage of the global standard of centralised database scheme include the University of Lagos, University of Calabar and Federal University of Technology, Owerri.

However, Delta State University, Ahmadu Bello University, University of Nigeria Nsukka and Nnamdi Azikiwe University are on the verge of full implementation.

For University of Lagos, bio-data and academic records of its undergraduate and postgraduate students from 1989 to date have already been transferred to the database. These include records of the College of Medicine and those of Distance Learning Institute. Moreso, at the University of Calabar and Federal University of Technology, Owerri, information on students, lecturers, administrators and others are already captured in the newly deployed NUC database system. With this project, Nigerian Universities have joined the league of forward-looking institutions of higher learning in the world. Amid a huge database of schools, colleges and universities across Nigeria, NUCDB provides accurate and up-to-date information on students, academic and non-academic personnel, research outputs, and university infrastructure.

The overall objective of the project is to establish a centralised database system for the Nigerian University System. The project will address among others the problems associated with delays in the processing and/or forgery of transcripts of Nigerian universities, help reduce the incidence of fake students, fake lecturers and prevent students who have been rusticated by any institution from simply relocating and gaining admission to another institution without knowledge of their past records and misdeeds. It will also eliminate doubts and apprehension in accepting transcripts from Nigerian tertiary institutions by foreign missions and institutions outside the country.

With education increasingly becoming the key determinant of overall development in the emerging knowledge economy of the world, managing the modern university system requires tracking the utilisation of resources, highlighting the depreciation of infrastructure and knowing the accurate student-lecturer ratios so that planners can easily fine-tune university quotas and resources.

It was also gathered that NUCDB ensures complete elimination of problems associated with over-admission and over-population in the universities. The project, it is also said, will enhance proper monitoring and supervision of each university due to communication link provided by this initiative. This will in turn help to ensure that actual graduates only from recognised universities can serve in the nation's one-year mandatory NYSC programme. Speaking on the benefits of this innovation, project consultant, Hon. Paul Adingwupu told Daily Independent that universities will benefit immensely from the infrastructure provided and managed by the NUCDB project and the Internet connectivity deployed and serviced by the project. He added that parents and prospective students would be able to compare performance in certain courses across different universities overtime from one reliable source online.

In summation Nigerian universities and indeed the general public stand to benefit tremendously from this initiative. Before the inauguration of the NUCDB project, there was no central database for the Nigerian university system and this made it difficult to access accurate information from the nation's Ivory Tower. Not unmindful of previous attempts to implement the Nigerian Universities Management Information System (NUMIS) and the Nigerian Universities Network (NUNet), NUC database is a Public-Private-Partnership initiative and to guarantee full success, NUC and its technical partner GUCCI-CHIS have resolved that the NUCDB Project will stand the test of time. This it hopes to achieve through the involvement of stakeholders to guarantee the implementation and sustenance of the project. Already, the NUCDB project is profiting, not only the universities and students but also every sector of the Nigerian economy.