Committee System Impact on University Management in Nigeria

By: ebi

The Senate is the highest academic body in the university system with the Vice-Chancellor as its chairman. Its authority covers all academic matters although some, such as appointments, are shared with council. It is Senate that has the formal authority under the university's charter and status to make academic policy. Therefore, for it to take meaningful decisions it has to create certain committees. Council is the governing body of the University and is the formal employer of all university staff. It is charged with the general control and superintendent of the Policy, Finance and Property of the University. University employees are required under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor to carry out Councils policies. To that extent the Vice-Chancellor may be seen as "Chief Executive". He is supported by the Registrar who is responsible for the university's academic and administrative supportive services.
The use of committees was entrenched in the Laws/Acts establishing Nigerian Universities as indicated in the University of Ibadan Act of 1962 which states that: "Anybody or persons established by the Act shall without prejudice of the generality, shall have power to appoint committees consisting of members of that body and subject to the provisions of sub-section(7) of section four of this Act to authorize committee established by it to exercise, on its behalf, such of its functions as it may determine". In the management of higher institutions, committees play very important roles in the decision making process. This is because as democratic establishments, universities' decisions on governance must reflect the opinion of a cross section of the staff if such decisions are to be accepted. This explains why many institutions in the country have established many committees to assist management in arriving at useful and meaningful decisions that can facilitate the proper management and growth of the university system of education.
Ede (2000), describes universities as international communities engaged in the daily business of the search for knowledge and truth. Ogunmodede (1981), states that authority of governance of Nigerian Universities is derived from an external source - The Visitor, who invariably is the president in the case of a Federal University and the Governor in the case of a State University. According to Daudu (1986), the management of such complex organization requires participation through the committee system because of the bureaucratic, collegial and political models that are applicable in them.
Nwachukwu {1988}, describes a committee as a device for achieving coordination of activities and sharing information among various departments and divisions of an organizations. He further states that committee decisions help to promote better coordination in an organization. Ikenwe (1998), highlighting the work of Foxworthy (1971), wrote that the primary motive of instituting the committee system in institutional governance has grown out of the motive concern for democratizing decision making in those institutions and a recognition of the need for more broadly based decision making as universities become more complex. This explains why many institutions in the country established many committees to assist its management in arriving at useful and meaningful decisions that can facilitate the proper management and growth of the university system of education.
In view of the importance of the committee system in university management, it is therefore necessary to investigate its impact on the effective and efficient management of the university system in Benue State of Nigeria.

Statement of the Problem
There have been frequent cries by some members of the university community that the committee system may not necessarily be the best method of effectively managing a university system. These staff members argue that the disadvantages of the committee system on university management appear to out weigh the advantages. Various segments of the staff have severally expressed their grievances, some violently and others peacefully over non implementation of committee decisions. These crises negate effective management of higher institutions. There is therefore the need to investigate this problem

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to investigate how effectively committees affect university management in Benue State of Nigeria. Specifically, the study is concerned with the level of staff participation in the various committees and their confidence and trust in these committees and their importance in the management of the university system.

Research Questions
The following questions were answered by the study:-
(i)Does the committee system improve decision making process in the universities?
(ii)Does the committee system lead to greater participation of members of staff in the university community?
(iii)Do decisions made by committees instill greater confidence in the university community?
(iv) Do committees provide effective advisory services to Vice- Chancellors?
(v) Do committees' recommendations influence opinion of the university council and senate towards proper management of the institutions?

The following hypotheses were formulated:-
(i)The committee system will not significantly lead to the participation of a higher number of staff in university management.
(ii)The committee system will not significantly improve decision making process in university management.
(iii)The committee system will not significantly instill greater confidence in the university.
(iv)The committee system will not significantly influence university management.

The population of the study was made up of the staff members of the two universities in Benue State of Nigeria. The stratified random sampling technique was adopted for this study because of the large population involved. The population was therefore arranged into five sub-groups or strata. This helped to ease data collection and analyses. In effect, the study samples consist of 203 members of senior staff, 109 members bringing the total to 312 drawn from the study sample. The study used one structured questionnaire for the 312 respondents. The adopted Likert Four Point rating scale of 4, 3, 2, and 1, was used to analyze responses in the questionnaire.

Method of Data Analysis
The mean, standard deviation and t-test were used to verify results and arrive at certain conclusions. A mean of 2.50 was used as cut-off point of decision making for each item on the instrument. Any item with a mean of 2.50 and above was considered adequate and hence enhances the level of respondents on the use of committees in university governance. Any item with a mean of 2.50 and above was considered adequate and hence enhances the level of respondents on the use of committees in university governance. Any item with a mean of less than 2.50 was considered inadequate. The four hypotheses formulated for this study were tested at 0.05 level of significance using student t-test for each. Where the calculated value is greater than the table value of t at 0.05 level of significance, the null was not accepted. On the other hand, if the calculated value is less than the table value of t at 0.05 level of significance, the null hypotheses was accepted. After subjecting the responses to the above statistical methods and analyses, three out of the four null hypotheses were not accepted, while the fourth was accepted.

Hypotheses One
The committee system will not significantly lead to the participation of a large number of staff in university management.
N1 5
X1 15.25
S1 4.35
N2 6
X2 5.99
S2 2.80
df 6 Cal-t
cal.t Value 2.85Table
table Value 2.45

Do not accept.

The result of the first hypothesis as shown above clearly indicates that the committee system encourages participation of a large number staff. Tahir (1991), agrees with this finding as he states that leadership must evolve styles that can ensure effective staff and student participation in decision making that affect them. Gwary (1993), also maintained that full participation is a process where each individual member of a decision making body has equal power to determine the outcome of the decision. This means that the use of participatory system of governance in the university system cannot be overemphasized. There must be full participation of individuals who are effective and efficient so as to help the growth of the committee system in university governance. It is then therefore worthy to mention that staff participation in the decision that affects their working lives is essential for effective management.

Hypotheses Two
The committee system will not significantly improve decision making process in university governance
DecisionDo not accept.
In the table above, since the calculated t value is higher than the table value, we therefore do not accept the hypothesis. This finding reveals that the committee system is a vital tool for improving decision making process in university management. This finding is in line with Jeje (1983), who states that committees bring about group judgment on an issue, thereby protecting the university or chief executive from errors arising out of the decision of an individual.

Hypotheses Three
The committee system will not significantly instill confidence in the university system.
Cal-tValue 3.279

DecisionDo not accept

This finding reveals that there will exist trust and confidence if the committee decisions are faithfully implemented. All cadres of staff are of the opinion that committees would however tend to ignore the views of staff if they are in conflict with those of the university administration. Mehendiratta (1984), in his study on university administration in India and USA states that it would be advisable for the university system itself to device an adequate machinery to deal with grievances of students, teachers, subordinate staff and administrators and this machinery should be so devised that all persons concerned would have confidence in its impartiality and independence.

Hypothesis four
The committee system will not significantly influence university management.

The finding reveals that the committee system will not influence university management. This is because the respondents agree that committees do not provide effective advisory services to Vice-Chancellors, and that committee recommendations will not influence opinions of the university council and senate. What this result shows is that even though the university community believes that committees are vital tools for university governance, they are not confident that university administration will really implement the recommendations of committees. This also shows that there exist lack of trust between the university community and the university administration. It is pertinent to ask why a staff who is found worthy of promotion in the Departmental appointment and promotions committee be denied promotion by the council appraisal and promotions committee. Explanations would also be needed as to why a student who is found guilty of examination malpractice is rusticated by the College/Faculty examination malpractice committee however when the same case gets to senate, such a student is expelled. One wonders therefore why these committees are set up to look into these cases when decisions made by them are not implemented. Suffice it to say that because of administrative interest in these matters, decisions made by these committees are jettisoned. These actions negate the purpose of setting up these committees and also breed distrust in the system. Sifuna (1991), states that the tendency for Vice-Chancellors to monopolize all aspects of decision making has now been perfected in the creation of Vice-Chancellors 'management boards' whose powers are too wide and constantly erode those of the senate. Views or decisions of committees are ignored if they are in conflict with those of administration. He further states that although universities teach about democracy and are quite vocal about the need for popular participation in decision-making, universities' administrative structures and key policy-making bodies are most undemocratic.

Conclusion and Recommendations
Universities the world over are established for the propagation, dissemination and the application of knowledge. The university system is made up of people with investigative and critical minds with the function of teaching, research and public service, dedicated to intellectual life and hence the need for a democratic system and consequently the introduction of the committee system of governance. The study has identified that staff of BSU and UAM are not as confident as they would like to be in the committee system. This is as a result of the non-implementation of committee recommendations in university governance. There is therefore the need for the university administration to effectively and efficiently implement committee recommendations so as to boost the confidence of staff in the system. University administration should further find a way to create conditions for trust to exist within the university community as there is a lot to gain in a trusting environment.
Tierney (1999), in his paper on Trust and Academic Governance opines that if individuals are to make far-reaching decisions they need to create the conditions for trust to exist. According to Longing (2002), institutional success at navigating the currents of higher education is the dependent on the effectiveness of governance structures and decision making processes. Still, governance and decision making as the subject of empirical research currently receives only moderate attention.
There is therefore the need for researchers to investigate more on how best to govern higher institutions to meet their desired goals without distrust. Universities must a evolve appropriate leadership styles and practices. Delegation and communication channels should be followed. Staff should be actively involved in decision making if they to be fulfilled and effective in following up decisions made. Participation will increase their level of out put. Recommendations made by committees should be accepted and implemented without delay so as to boost confidence in the system. There should be mandatory, introductory and refreshers courses/ seminars on the committee system for staff especially for junior staff members so as to understand what the committee system is all about as most of them do not know how the committee system operates.


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