THE Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), Professor Abubakar Adamu Rasheed, has frowned on attempts by some professional bodies to equate Fellowship with Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), which is the highest academic degree in the university system.
It was gathered that the commission has been inundated with complaints about an alleged attempt by some professional bodies to place their Fellowships at par with PhD, requiring NUC’s clarification of the contention.
It was further gathered that the NUC boss vented his spleen over the development when he received the delegation from the West Africans Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science, (WAPCMLS), led by its President, Professor Nafiu Amidu in his office, Abuja.
According to him, the two qualifications were not by any means comparable, and that the commission would not encourage Fellowship of any professional bodies or organisation as a substitute for a PhD.
Rasheed explained that while Fellowship is the highest professional qualifications for professional in any non-academic organisation, PhD is the highest academic degree in the university system anywhere in the world, adding that there was no basis for argument over superiority of PhD over professional Fellowship.
He insisted that Medical Scientists should endeavour to have a PhD being the highest academic qualification in the university, noting that while PhD is not required for the non-academic staff for their career progression, and those who practise in the hospitals, laboratories, among others who could aid themselves with professional programmes or fellowship.
His words: “Having a Fellowship is good but if you want to engage in teaching and research in the university system, you must not downplay pursuit of a PhD, you cannot even compare your research in doing PhD with your professional or fellowship experiences.”
He commended the delegates for availing themselves an opportunity to have a first-hand information from the commission on the contending issues surrounding the superiority of PhD over Fellowship and vice versa, saying the difference had been made clear to them during the meeting.
He said that most of the new knowledge in the Medical field is attributed to Medical Scientists, noting that a typical example of such is the COVID-19 pandemic of which the leaders worldwide relied significantly on the laboratory scientists for possible cure.
In his presentation, the President of WAPCMLS, Professor Amidu, who came from the University of Ghana, said the visit was apt as the world was grappling with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, an infectious disease which had disrupted human and socio-economic systems and wreaked havoc on human life and livelihood.
He noted that the pandemic disease outbreak had exposed the weaknesses and gaps in the health manpower capacity and infrastructure in the African countries.
Professor Amidu stated that the centrality and crucial role of medical laboratory testing in the prompt detection, accurate diagnosis, treatment, surveillance, prevention and control of many communicable and non-communicable diseases was well known.
He stated that it was in pursuit of the need to build and strengthen medical laboratory capacity in the African region that the 2008 Maputo Declaration on Strengthening of Laboratory system in developing countries was made and in keeping with the declaration, the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) in 2013 approved the establishment of the West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science for the training of specialist medical laboratory scientists in the ECOWAS countries.
The WAPCMLS President sought on behalf of the college, the commission’s support to foster collaborations with willing universities in Nigeria for candidates enrolled in the college fellowship training programme, who desire to pursue their PhD studies concurrently in the universities.