Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Julius Okojie yesterday accused some state governments of sponsoring students to sub-standard foreign universities where they are likely to go and cause problems for Nigeria.Okojie made specific reference to the recent award of scholarships by the Kano state government to 500 students to study in Ukraine, Jordan and other countries, as well as similar sponsorships by the Osun state government.The NUC chief spoke in Abuja while delivering an address of welcome at a roundtable on cross-border higher education organised by NUC and the British Council.Okojie said the decision of the Kano state government to send about 70 per cent of the students to Ukraine was not good as the worry was that 'they would export cultism from here.''We should send students to the best places in the world,' Okojie said.'I know there is a university in Ukraine where they have 800 medical students and some of them don't have basic sciences. Osun State government also did the same thing. In five years' time we would find that all doctors are from Ukraine,' he added.He said states that have funds to send students abroad should sponsor them to 'proper places' so when they return they can come and enrich the education system.Okojie also said even the highly-regarded British education system is slowly being bastardised as their universities now admit all sorts of students who may not necessarily be qualified.He said UK citizens are finding it hard to get placements in British universities because of international students, and cross-border higher education would help check all the irregularities.Deputy Director of the British Council said because of the high demand for tertiary education in Nigeria and lack of access, the UK could help increase academic collaboration and international research.Britain is among the best 10 countries in delivering higher education, according rating agency Universitas 21. Many of its universities have also remained among the best in the world.In 2011, two Ukrainian universities made it into world's top 700 universities in the QS World University Rankings of 2,919 universities. No Nigerian university ever made it into this list.Kano, Osun fire back at OkojieIn his reaction, Kano State Commissioner for Higher Education, Alhaji Umar Haruna Doguwa, said the state government had done its homework very well by contacting relevant regulatory agencies within and outside Nigeria before selecting foreign universities for the students.He said his ministry first approached the department of higher education in the Federal Ministry of Education, where it obtained authentic list of universities in the world, before contacting regulatory bodies of such institutions in their respective home countries, in order to be sure they are accredited.'Professor Okogie is somebody I respect for his interest in scholarship, so I doubt if he will make such a comment. However, if that is true, I will then point out here that his reference to cultism does not apply to Kano, because none of our students is a cultist. And there is no way we can export what we don't have. Another thing is, we obtained the list of accredited universities in the world, before we start talking of sponsoring our students there,' Doguwa said.'In Ukraine, their regulatory agency guided us as to the universities that are accredited and the ones that are sub-standard and we tried as much as possible to secure placement for the students in the accredited universities. The state government is not just interested in sponsoring students to foreign universities, but it is equally concerned about the quality of the education they will get out there at the end of the day.'Also, Osun State Information Commissioner, Akinrogun Sunday Akere, defended the government's decision to sponsor students to Ukraine.He said the Ukraine University where Osun students are going to is a reputable institution founded in 1804.'We wish to appeal to the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Julius Okojie not to play politics with educational issue because if concerned lives of children who are leaders of tomorrow,' Aekere said.'The NUC boss should not subject Osun State government to disrepute with such comment. Our students are not involved in cultism and we are surprised that the NUC boss is saying that the students will export cultism to Ukraine.'Nothing (is) wrong with the university we picked. Therefore, Okojie should be patriotic and put politics apart in the interest of the nation and the future of our children.'Seasoned educationist Professor Adamu Baikie, in his reaction, said taking students abroad for studies might not necessarily make such students to get qualitative education.'The same reason that makes us to go to India for medical treatment is what is making some states and individuals to take their students abroad. Nobody is sure that the quality of education these students would get in abroad would be better than what they would get here in the country,' Baikie told Daily Trust yesterday.'However, three reasons force parents or state governments to take their students abroad for studies. One, our universities cannot accommodate all the students that are qualified to enter into the university. Some parents also don't believe on what our universities do here in Nigeria and lastly, sometime students spend longer time studying here in Nigeria unlike abroad where they respect the time stipulated for different courses.'The issue of sending students to substandard universities may be an opinion, but in the final analysis, it is the decision of the parents or governments to take their students abroad for studies largely because of the three reasons I mentioned above. So, the solution to taking students abroad is to effectively handle the problems facing our universities. There is also the need for us to change our attitude and begin to believe in ourselves; we should know that we have the brains that are even better than what we have abroad.'If NUC is able to identify some universities abroad and classify them as substandard, the implication is that students that graduate from those universities would not be recognised by the Nigerian government and they cannot therefore be employed by the federal government except the states that sent them for studies in those universities. Click here to read full news..