The Directorate of International Collaboration & Linkageshas since inception continued to strive for success in meeting its mandate of evolving a proactive approach and development agenda geared at creating linkages with reputable institutions and funding agencies for greater visibility of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, nationally and internationally. Towards this, we have remained active with contacts, linkages and collaborative proposals and activities with various institutions and agencies in different parts of the world. So far, we have perfected a standard Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which the university can use with several institutions. With these institutions we have a variety of cooperative approaches such as exchange of undergraduate and graduate students, exchange of visiting lecturers, fellowships, scholarships, joint postgraduate programmes and development of joint scientific research, including holding international workshops.
Among the activities of DICL since assumption of office are presented in the following areas:
An example of the programme facilitation which the Directorate drives alongside concerned Faculties, Units or Departments from Nnamdi Azikiwe University include the MOUs arrangements and planned activities, for instance, with the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California San Diego students; joint postgraduate programme in Forensic Science with the Nebraska Institute of Forensic Sciences, USA; hosting of visiting Professors and Guest speakers at different international conferences on UNIZIK campus.
At the recent Faculty of Education 3rd International Conference where the Directorate was instrumental to the invitation/participation of Prof. George Agbango, the Assistant Provost and Dean of Undergraduate programmes (equivalent of Deputy Vice Chancellor-Academic) from the Bloomsburg University, USA, as the Keynote speaker, Faculty of Education. During the visit of Prof. Agbango to NAU-Awka, three meetings were initiated for collaboration with Bloomsburg University by the Directorate via Deputy Director, Dr. Williams Obiozor: (a) Faculty of Education (b) Faculty of Management Sciences (c) Federal College of Education (Technical) NAU Degree Programme at Umunze campus. Our Directorate has already began the modalities for linkage and collaborative programmes with the Faculties/FCET and Bloomsburg University.
The Directorate is presently working with the NAU’s Department of Fisheries, on linkage programmes in the field of fisheries and aquaculture in Texas, USA. In this regard, contacts have been established with OneHealth Epigenome Foundation and Prairie View Agriculture and Mechanical University, Prairie View, Texas. MOU drafting and talks are in progress between the Head of Department of Fisheries and representatives of the American partners to assist NAU in setting up aquaculture laboratories, including training and student/staff exchange programmes.
In conjunction with the School of Postgraduate Studies of this university, an International Exchange Agreement between our university and the University of Witts, Johannesburg, South Africa, are in the works. The two universities are at the signing stage of this collaboration. The DIC&L will continue to inform the university on the developments.
Another development in South Africa was the invitation the Deputy Director by the North-West University (NWU), Vanderbijlpark, to participate in the Optentia Research Focus workshop training programme on “Developing Advanced Learners for the 21st Century” on Wednesday March 9, 2016. The workshop focused on introducing a new research project for stakeholders in Education and entailed comparative studies presentation between South African, Nigerian and Kenyan scholars. At the end of the workshop, discussions were held with the Directors of Optentia Research Focus Center at the university on possible collaboration on research and grant writing between NAU and NWU.
The Directorate is equally working with Department of Linguistics on the proposal for the 6-8 week Summer Course in Igbo language for a Student from Boston University, Massachusetts, USA. All requirements demanded by the Language Center in Boston, University, have been provided by the Department under the guidelines of the Directorate, and the student is expected to arrive in Awka this summer.
The Directorate is presently partnering with the UNITWIN Cooperation Programme/Index Project, USA – in the area of Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue managed by the UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector. NAU was represented in the international medial dialogue meeting held in Abuja recently.
The Directorate is working with the Faculty of Agriculture on its international academic exchange programme agreement with the College of Agriculture, Auburn University, Alabama, USA. The two universities are on MOU stage and hopefully will commence exchange programmes in the fields of joint research and technical cooperation.
The Directorate follows keenly and provide information where needed to students on the collaboration and linkage programme of Xiamen University, China and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka which established the Confucius Institute. The programme has further strengthened the relationship between students/lecturers studying on our campus and China’s Xiamen University. Also with the approval of the Chinese Government, Nnamdi Azikiwe University has become a Centre for writing the Chinese HSK language Proficiency Examination for Certification of Proficiency in Chinese Languages. The Directorate shares such information with its visitors and guest who visit the office.
Furthermore, we have broadened the scope of our linkage arrangement with Nigeria academics in diaspora particularly for our post-graduate programmes in the Faculties of Education, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences. Under this arrangement Nigeria Scientists and researchers living overseas are invited annually to the University for two weeks to give lectures and offer academic work supervision. All in the works as the opportunity arises.
Our MOU with National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) affords our students and the opportunity staff to be involved in Residency Hands-on programme and joint research with the institute. This programme helps to equip our students with practical skills, and enhance their competence in root crop agriculture and research.
Currently, our University is working on a MoU with University of Salamanca, Spain. This Spanish University is recognized as the repository of Spanish culture and Language. Further to this, they are to help train the trainers of Spanish as a foreign Language. They have also, pledged to collaborate with UNIZIK to establish the only Spanish cultural centre in Nigeria. This centre is expected to be a good resource for a variety of institutions and professionals. This will increase the visibility of UNIZIK and will also be a good source of earning for the University.
Similarly, the Directorate, in collaboration with faculty of Arts and University of Bamberg, Germany, with the support of the Vice Chancellor is working to establish a Bachelor degree and graduate programme in German Language.
With the full support of the Vice Chancellor, the University Debating Club was established towards the end of 2014 and consolidated in 2015. The Debating club was placed under the mentorship and supervision of the Directorate. In its maiden outing in January 2015 at the All Nigeria Universities Debating Championship, University of Lagos; the UNIZIK Debating Club performed creditably well with a medal and 6th position as the Best Speaker Award out of more than 20 participating universities. At the All Nigeria Universities Debating Championship in Imo State University Owerri, UNIZIK Debating Club stopped at the quarter final stage. The Club is currently preparing for the 4th All Nigeria Universities Debating Championship taking place at Covenant University, Otta, Ogun State, and July 9-15, 2016. The Directorate just endorsed the participation of a member of the Debating Club to travel to Accra Open Debating Championship taking place at the University of Legon, Ghana June 25-28, 2016.
The Directorate is planning/putting together some innovative programmes in the areas of creating more awareness on grant sourcing, scholarship and fellowship opportunities, research participation, and staff/student sensitization on its activities on campus. We are seeking ways to raise funds to support especially the activities of the UNIZIK Debating Club so that the students can participate in the local events as well as be able to host such events on campus. The latter project, our dear Vice Chancellor has pledged to extend more support from his office.
The Directorate also linked up the Global Awareness Society International (GASI) – from Bloomsburg University of USA to students and staff in order to attain international networking status on research and academic activities. The association is already registered with Students Affairs Department and entrenched on campus.
The DICL worked out a project with Carnegie Foundation USA which sponsored Professor Emmanuel Onyeozili from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland, USA, under the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme. Since early 2016 the DICL office corresponded with Prof. Emmanuel Onyeozili and the Carnegie Foundation officials to facilitate the process. The Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) has been supportive and played advisory roles in the process of this scholar exchange programme. In the first phase of the arrangements with the Scholar Exchange Programme, Prof. Onyeozili is being sponsored by Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, where he will put in place the processes involved in setting up Criminology and Criminal Justice programme. This programme began June 1st and to end in August 31st 2017 (three months) after which Prof. Onyeozili will return to the United States. Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme (CADFP) has in the last two weeks approved that Prof. Emmanuel Onyeozili remain with UNIZIK for a period of one year to teach, research and develop undergraduate and graduate programme in Criminology and Criminal justice. This fellowship programme is funded by CADFP
The DICL office worked out a collaborative project with two universities in Europe. In the process, the Director, Prof. Onyiaorah led a team which included our Vice Chancellor as part of Nnamdi Azikiwe University delegates to Germany and Spain to discuss collaboration and sign MOUs with the University of Munich and University of Bamberg in Germany; and University of Salamanca, Spain. This trip was between the 24th of June to 2nd July 2017 (Seven days), and it was a huge success.
The University already has a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of the Witswatersrand, South Africa, as well as a Proposal for international linkage with another University in USA. There are also arrangements for Witts scholar Prof. Clifford Odumegwu from Statistics and Demographic Department, University of Wits to come to NAU as a visiting Professor for about one to three months; so as to encourage mentoring and capacity building among the staff and students of statistics department. Part of our linkage and collaboration programme includes some postgraduate programmes in some departments’ liaising with their co-departments in Wits, so as to achieve a UNIZIK-WITS programme. The pilot for this programme is hoped to be commenced early 2018, if approval is gotten from the University senate before the end of 2017. To facilitate this process, Dr. William Obiozor was appointed a Desk Officer for the Pilot project while Dr. Edwin Etieyibo represents Witts. Already, NAU have sent a nursing student to Witts University for her studies as part of students’ capacity development programme for the Department of Nursing. Thus, only four departments from NAU will be included in the pilot and they are:
This is an ongoing process whereby the NAU facilities and staff are needed to collaborate with NOUN in their Nursing and Science programmes. DICL is still making the needed proposal and consulting the Deans of the College of Health Sciences, Medicine and other Science Faculties, before signing the MOU.
Finally, the Directorate is faced with several challenges especially in the areas of funding which has affected our inability to participate in university ranking activities. We have problems of recruiting academic staff members to participate in grant writing and research programmes. The Directorate receives grant information weekly and disseminates them online but hardly gets responses for participation even when invitations are sent via Deans of Faculties for mobilization.