The University of Lagos on Saturday said that its students were on course in changing the narrative of university education in the country through its various entrepreneurship programmes.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development Services), Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, said this on the sideline of the Second Level Investment Pitching Competition.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the pitching competition is an off-shoot of the recent ‘Impact Week’, a design thinking workshop for both students and staff of the university, organised in collaboration with Lufthansa, a German airline.
The competition came up with 24 teams that came up with new designs and prototypes.
The prototypes and designs were in the areas of Urban Agriculture, Tourism, Environment, Energy, Health, Education, Commerce and Finance, among others.
According to Ogunsola, the university has been in the business of developing innovation and entrepreneurship in the last few years in the realisation that it is only through such steps that Nigeria can truly move forward.
She noted that one of the most important tasks of the university currently was to ensure that every student would graduate as a job creator, ready to solve most societal challenges.
“Today, I must say that I am so proud of these our students who have come up with several designs, waiting to be tapped into.
“We can confidently tell you today that our students are amazing and burning with a lot of creative ideas.
“All they need is the ability environment and training to allow them express themselves and indeed when we challenged them, they rose up to the occasion.
“The major way we arrived at this was through design thinking which means that we have changed our training styles,’’ Ogunsola said.
She noted that the nation’s universities were indeed not as bad as was perceived by most people, saying there were a lot of changes currently going on there.
“I am so proud of our students. In all, we have about 32 prototypes.
“From the teams that we have put together, in various areas of life such as health, tourism, waste management, agriculture and others, they have come up with a lot of innovation.
“These are the kind if things that will move this country forward.
“Currently we have an entrepreneurship centre but there is an urgent need to expand it for us to have various businesses coming out from our university.
“As of today, in this year alone, we have about five patents and we already have another 10 going forward.
“So what we realise is that when we did not have a centre that was driving this, these developments were hidden but now with the centre in place, we are unearthing a lot of creativity, potential and finding out that our students could actually develop so many things,’’ Ogunsola said.
According to her, a major setback has also been lack of publicity; without it, a lot of people would still not believe in the budding talents of the students.
The don said that the university will continue to collaborate with other entrepreneurs outside the university as the whole idea was a cross-fertilisation of ideas.
“Nobody knows everything and even our students are motivated by what they see outside as well as problems of industries that they can solve. It is only through this that Nigeria can be on its way to development, ‘’ she said.
According to her, no country can develop if it fails to work with its universities.
Ogunsola said that the whole essence was about rubbing hands together, saying that “if as a people, the country gives up on its and everything gives way, then there will be no way forward’’.
The don said that universities could only develop by being challenged and urged that UNILAG be more challenged as the institution could rise up to any level.
“We have the staff and as we are challenged, you will be surprised at what we can do. So, we are calling on the public to come and rub minds with the institution.
“Come with your challenges, and we will be ready to work with industries in finding solutions.
“We are already working with quite a number of the industries – the Air Force, and Aviation .
“I want to say that any country that does not develop its own human capital through its university system will not go anywhere,’’ she said.
Ogunsola said that already, the university had concluded plans to set up a programme that would enable students of the university graduate with Certificate in Entrepreneurship.
She explained that the idea of the institution’s Skills centre was not basically about the acquisition of vocational skills but majorly about the students being able to apply their minds to solving problems.
Ogunsola said it was about thinking and doing things differently.
She said that the centre was focused in teaching the skills of creative thinking, connecting dots and solving problems.
Ogunsola, however, identified energy and funding as major challenges affecting the progress of work in the skill centre.
“We discover that these two are the factors we have to deal with. So, we have been trying to find ways to go around them, through collaboration with international partners, industries and others,’’ she said.
Dr Sunday Adebisi, acting Director of the Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre, noted that the second level pitching had attracted investors already, who had come to take a look at some of the new products if they could invest in them.
According to him, aside showing interest in the products, the investors will also critic the prototypes and advice on how to move them to the next level.
Adebisi said that the university would intensify efforts in producing graduates with a difference, with valid business ideas that could sell as well as create jobs for Nigerians.
“When you look at the crime rate in the country today, you will discover that most of the people kidnapping are graduates who are savy and solid in their brains and these people do this because they are frustrated and cannot secure jobs.
“So, what we are trying to do with our students here in UNILAG is to put their brains in perfect functionality and get them to begin to create business and ideas so that when they graduate, they get very engaged with what they are doing,’’ Adebisi, also an Associate Professor said.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said that there was no going back on management’s plan in making the university, the number one entrepreneurship hub of the nation