Exams have ended; Final-year theses have, for many 400 and 500 Level students of the University of Ilorin, been approved and submitted. The only thing left is to get cleared by the various departments and divisions stipulated by the university in its clearance form which is to be obtained from respective faculties. However, the rigorous and somewhat over-procedural nature of the clearance process has spurred mixed interests from various quarters and stakeholders in the university system.
Students have expressed their concerns about the fact that they are made to expend the entire day queuing; squatting; leaning; while waiting to get signatures and stamps on their clearance forms and, sometimes, under unfriendly weathers at one clearance division or the other. Some others noted that they were made to trek long distances in a bid to get “badges and approvals on their ruffled up papers”. For many of the students, the daily timebound nature of the exercise seems to have made it a lot more stressful, in which case many have had to spend days completing the clearance process. While it is, to some, a process to which they’ve gotten accustomed, many others think that a lot can still be done to ease the process.
A handful of students were interviewed by a correspondent of the UCJ and their perspectives as regards the 2018 final-year clearance exercise were obtained.
Fatogboye Richard Gboyede, a final-year student of the Department of History and International Studies, was verbally engage by the UCJ correspondent. Below is the conversation that followed.
UCJ: What do you think of the strategy adopted for use by the university in fast-tracking the 2018 final-year clearance process?
Student: Hmm… Well, the strategy I can say, has been a bit stressful for us students. Ever since we were admitted into the university, everything has been stressful but we’ve gotten used to it. The clearance process is no exception. The authorities should try to device an alternative way of carrying out the process to suppress the stress being undergone by the students to that effect.
UCJ: How do you suggest the university authority improves? – What strategy do you propose would be a better fit for carrying out the process?
Student: Technology is not a culture typical of or restricted to any country. I suggest they work on making the process an online thing as against having students walk all nook and cranny of the entire campus to get signatures.
Oyerinde Samuel, a 400 Level student of the Department of Linguistics, was interviewed. The following conversation ensued.
UCJ: What is your perspective on the modus operandi adopted for use in the 2018 final-year clearance process that has been going on for quite a while now?
Student: Looking at the way the clearance went, it has relatively been a success. But I wouldn’t give a hundred percent because we were made to go through some unnecessary and stressful processes. The clearance done at sports, works, stores, among others, would be considered more successful. But I think more improvements can be done with respect to that of the clinic and library. More personnel should be made available and adequate provisions should also be made for the logistic aspect with respect to the former. As for that of the library which gave us a tough time, I’ve gotten mine but there are many others who have given up and gone home on merely looking at the rowdy and stressful procedure with which they are to be faced. Irrespective of this situation, we’ve been enduring it and would have to keep doing so since it’s a one-time thing.
UCJ: What idea would you like to propose to the authorities to see to it that the said stress is mellowed?
Student: Well, making the clearance a faculty thing would do. Representatives from each division can be deployed to each faculty, especially those divisions that are usually more rowdy. Even if the resources to do so are largely unavailable, we can still have them in three; four faculties or thereabout. This would reduce the number of people that would have to queue up, hasten the entire process, and make it far easier for the students. So, it’s either that the number of centres for the clearance is increased or that the number of officials available be raised. Any of those would do.
UCJ: Many have suggested that making the clearance process an automated one would be much more ideal. What do you think about this idea?
Student: Personally, I doubt the feasibility of the idea and whether it can actually be adopted by the school because a lot of manually-performed record checking processes is involved. To me, it’s more of a paper work than an online thing. The heterogeneous nature of the divisions to give their assent has made it almost impossible. You can imagine having the HODs go online to check the students’ records before giving their assent (he shrugs indifferently).
Similarly, Ifedọlapọ Osalusi, a final-year student of the department of Psychology was interviewed.
UCJ: What do you think of the strategy adopted by our esteemed university for fast tracking the ongoing clearance exercise?
Student: I think it’s not that bad. It’s just that it can be quite rowdy because we have a lot of students and limited staffs. The daily time constraint is quite small too. Imagine how such a large number of university students can submit their clearance forms just between 8am to 10 am. It fair at some point but if you’re to rethink it, it could be better than this.
UCJ: What strategy do you suggest should be put in place to make better the situation?
Student: (Scoffs) Maybe there shouldn’t be daily time constraint. Students are supposed to be able to go to any unit at any time to get cleared.
UCJ: Many are of the idea that making the clearance an online process would be ideal. What do you think about this suggestion?
Student: I haven’t really thought about it. But that would be far better.
UCJ: …And you think the idea is feasible?
Student: Am certain of it. Besides, in UNILORIN, if we are determined to do something, we can.
A number of clearance officials and respected authorities in the university system were verbally engaged by a correspondent of the UCJ. Mrs. Kuranga, a health worker at the University of Ilorin Clinic and a clearance official at the Health Services Division was one of them. She noted that the clearance process since its commencement has indeed been a great success. According to her, the health services division used to cover about 400 students per day but the number has gradually increased to about 700 with the adoption of more effective strategies and procedures. Students who were yet to register were made to pay a token to that effect and those who have lost their clinic IDs, which they are supposed to return to the custody of the clinic, had their ID numbers traced in the clinic database by virtue of the date during which they registered. She expressed her doubts as regards the practicability of automating the process considering operational difficulties like power outage and the diversity of the divisions from which the said clearance are to obtained. “Maybe in the nearest future when appropriate provisions are made, the idea might be implemented but not now”, she explained. She however noted that the clearance process has not been without challenges. According to her, the population of the students increases on a daily basis, yet, there are neither offices nor specific places set aside for the process. She suggested that an expansion of the clinic in order that it might be able to hold such a population or allotting specific halls to the health services division would go a long way in ensuring the smooth ensuing of the process in subsequent sessions.
Another highly esteemed figure engaged by the UCJ correspondent is the circulation librarian of the University of Ilorin Main Campus Library, Mr. U.A. Saliu. The following conversation ensued between the duo.
UCJ: What do you think of the final-year clearance process that has been going on for quite a while now? –Can you undoubtedly say that it has greatly been a success?
Mr. Saliu: The clearance process has of course been a successful one so far. This is the case owing to the fact that we’ve modified our mode of operation therein. In the previous sessions, the modus operandi had been to assemble the students in front of the library after which the clearance process commences. This, we noted, often led to there being a very massive crowd waiting in front of the library to get cleared and a lot of students complaining and being in hurry to leave for home. However, this wasn’t the case this session as the students were made submit their respective forms for signing and come back to get it the following day. So many processes are involved in clearing students of which the public is often not aware. Records need to looked up to figure out if certain students have borrowed books which they didn’t return. In such cases, these books have to be retrieved. Similar issues like this exist all of which must be resolved before the students are “cut loose”. All these take time but we’ve so far managed to be time-conserving and it has been indeed been successful.
UCJ: From the forgoing, have there been notable challenges?
Mr. Saliu: Not really. The initial challenge, which was with students who were yet to register with the library, has been resolved with the intervention of the university librarian. During the clearance, you’d find that those who have failed to register with the library are asked to pay a token of #200 for registration before their final-year clearance is effected while those who lost their cards are asked to pay #100 for a replacement. This resulted in a lot of confusion since some students claimed that they were unaware. The issue was resolved though, and the students in question have been complying to that effect.
UCJ: How do you think the university can improve with respect to the operational approach used to carry out the clearance process?
Mr. Saliu: Speaking for the library, there are already plans to start carrying out the clearance online. With that, we would only have to print out their registration slips and check therefrom whether they are in good standing enough to be cleared. That way, the process would be made a lot easier.
UCJ: Most students have indeed noted that the making the entire clearance process an online affair would ideal. What do you think of this suggestion sir?
Mr. Saliu: Indeed, since 2016/2017 academic session, the library registration which is an integral aspect of the clearance process has started being done online. The reason why problems are being faced with respect to doing same with the current clearance process is that most of the current final-year students are yet to have their names captured in the database for the online clearance. By next year, such would not be the case and there wouldn’t be problems with clearing students online. If the library can accomplish that, then I think other divisions should be able to do same in due time.
Mr. Saliu further implored the students and, in extension, the Student Union to cooperate with the authorities through the current clearance process while further assuring the students on behalf of the library that there are already laid down plans to fast-track subsequent clearance process by means of online procedures. He noted that delays to that effect are only as a result of the usual logistic problems faced when innovative ideas are come up with.
Stephen Charles Kenechukwu,
Stephen C. Kenechukwu is a linguist, a writer, an editor, a media enthusiast with keen interest in Public Relation and empowerment. He loves writing to educate, and unravel unwholesome trends in the public sphere. He is also interested in volunteering and is open to mentorship. He can be reached on +2347012312285 or StephenCharlesKenechukwu@gmail.com