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This study is on students’ participation in administrative decision-making in the governance of universities in South-South Nigeria. The study became necessary because of the researcher’s experiences of student crisis in South – South Nigeria universities. Five purposes of study and five research questions guided the study. Four hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. The research design adopted was descriptive survey research design. The population for the study was 145,870 students with a sample of 1200 final year students. The data collection instrument was questionnaire made up of forty (40) items. The internal consistency of the instrument was established with the use of Cronbach alpha method. The reliability co-efficient of 0.82 was obtained for cluster one, 0.76 for cluster two 0.68 for three, 0.91 for four and 0.88 for cluster five. These scores or values were computed and internal reliability coefficient of 0.92 was obtained and considered reliable enough for the study. Data collected was analyzed using mean and standard deviation. The result revealed that: Students of federal and state universities agreed that the university disciplinary committees are composed of students and members of staff and students are free to contribute to matters relating to students discipline in the committee. Student of federal and state universities disagreed that the rules and regulations operating in the university for students are made by the students and the university authority. Students of federal universities agreed that university authority seeks students’ opinions when rules and regulations are formulated for students, Students of both federal and state universities also disagreed that students and the university authority always decide hostel accommodation fees, Students of federal and state universities disagreed that; they take part in deciding internally generated revenue like: development fee, laboratory fee, and their views are not usually sought nor considered before increases in registration fees are made. Students of both federal and state universities held the opinion that students’ leaders are elected by students and the list forwarded to the university authority for approval among others. Based on the findings, conclusions were drawn and the educational implications discussed. Among the recommendations made were that: Students should be represented in university disciplinary committees of their institutions, university authorities should involve students in the formulation of rules and regulations on students union government in both state and federal universities. Students should participate in decision making on accommodation related issues. Students should be involved in decision making on internally generated revenue and finally students should take part in the selection of their leaders.
Background of the Study
Decision making is a process of selecting from among a set of alternatives in the light of given objectives. It can be viewed as a mental process resulting in the selection of a course of action among several alternatives (Burker and Miller, 1999). Decision making is also defined as a judgment, a process of formulating and implementing decision a conscious selection among alternatives and a process of problem solving. The process of decision making includes the use of complex, logical and mathematical process (Okeke, 2007) Decisions are classified into policy decisions, administrative or managerial decisions and operational or executive decisions. Ogbonnaya (2002) defined policy decisions as decisions made by public officials which give direction to public policy actions. While administrative decisions are decisions which determine the means to be used in achieving organizational goals (Obi, 2003). Operational decisions according to Okeke (2007) are decisions which are made on daily basis a cases arise. He added that executive or operational decisions are concerned with the ways in which different programmes of the institutions are carried out.
Administration is a process of coordinating the efforts of human and material resources systematically to achieve set goals (Ezeocha, 1990) while management is defined by Peretomode (1996) as a social and interactional process involving a sequence of coordinated events planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling or leading in order to use available resources to achieve a desired goal in the fastest possible way. Administration and management are related because both involve the coordination of human and material resources to achieve set goals in any organization. However management is more embracing in the sense that it involve planning, organizing, controlling, leading among others while administration involve more of the coordination of human and material resources in the process of implementing programme (Ejiogu, 1990). In this study, however management and administration mean the same thing.
Administrative decisions making in educational institutions are normally embarked upon by university administrators, provost, or principals for the day to day running of their institutions (Obi, 2003). In the universities in particular administrative decisions covers such areas as regulation of teaching and learning activities courses assigned to faculty staff, promotion of research, admission of students, students discipline, welfare of students, and the regulation of their conduct, budgeting and spending (Okeke, 2007). These decisions are made by university administrators and staff. However administrative decision-making for students participation in this study covers students representation in the disciplinary committees of their universities, students participation in formulation of rules and regulation on students’ union government, students participation in administrative decision-making on accommodation matters, students participation in decision-making on internally generated revenue like tuition fee development fee, examination fee, library fee, and students participation in administrative decision-making on the selection of students leaders.
In his decision making theory called competencies decision making theory Abbot (1974) taught that leaders should identify and differentiate between types of decisions in an organization, determine the type of information needed for the decision and consider the involvement of all stake holders in the institution in making decisions in order to avoid the negative consequences of taking decisions without the consideration of some stake holders in organizations. The researcher therefore anchored this study on Abbot competencies decision-making theory and on Hodgett and Altman (1979) bounded rationality decision making theory which seek to identify and select the best alternative from different organizational temperament and experiences before a decision is made.
It should be noted that the desire of the federal and state governments to provide higher education for her citizens has led to the establishment of universities in all parts of Nigeria. The major aims of which are to produce high level manpower for overall national development, to inculcate the best values for the survival of individual and society, to develop the intellectual capacity of individual to understand and appreciate their local and external environment among others. (FRN, 2004). These aims would not be adequately achieved under a violent and troubled situations always experienced during students crisis in South South Nigeria. The university authorities are thus expected to apply inclusive decision-making technique that will enable the participation of all stakeholders in the universities in decision-making and the provision of adequate social amenities with the funds provided by government in order to enhance teaching and learning and achievements of set goals (Aluede, 2001).
However evidence from literature reviewed and personal observation revealed that students’ low participation in decision-making in issues that concern their welfare in the governance of universities and lack of adequate social amenities are causes of students crises in south south universities (Adejuwon and Fatile 2011). For instance there are persistent incidence of students’ crisis and indiscipline in south south Nigerian Universities, there are reports of students’ disorderliness, chaos, riot, cultism boycott of lectures and hooliganism featuring frequently in newspaper dially and there are also reports of students’ violent demonstrations leading to destruction of public and private property lost of lives, disruption of classes, untimely closure of schools and disruption of academic calendar in south south universities. (Aluede, Jimo, Aqwinede and Omoregie, 2005). The impact of this crises are: prolong of academic activities, poor academic performance, poor implementation of the curriculum, examination malpractice and in most cases renders school environment completely insecure for serious academic activities which are never beneficial to the students, the universities and the society in general (Adejuwon and Fatile, 2011).
On the other hand if students participate in decision-making on issues that concern them in the governance of universities; universities would be less chaotic, academic activities would go on uninterrupted teaching and learning objectives will be properly achieved and students, the university and the public will benefit from the peaceful and progressive school environment. (Adeyemi 2009 and Esheit, 2004). The question is to what extent do students participate in decision-making in the governance of universities in south south Nigeria? This study is meant to answer this question and proffer solution to the lingering problem of students low participation in decision making and its consequences (Adejuwon and Fatile, 2011).
Participation is taking part in the process of formulation an implementation of policies. (Parry, Moyser, and Day, 1992). Students participation in decision-making on the other hand is involving students in decision-making on issues that concern their welfare (Esheit, 2004). The importance of students participation in decision-making cannot be overstressed, when members of an organization participate in decision-making or implementating programmes, the absorptive capacity of the organization is higher (Anderson and West 1998). Participation stimulates the exchange and intergration of information, reduce resistance to change and facilitates organizational members commitment to team work (Strassner and Titus in De-Drew and West 2001). Students’ participation in decision-making will give them a sense of belonging, smoothen relationships and prevent students’ crises in south south Nigerian Universities (De-Drew and West 2001). The importance of students’ participation in decision-making according to Chambers (2007) include: the development of skills such as debating, negotiating, group decision-making and influencing decision-making, participation also enable students to understand how decisions are made and how to contribute to them. Therefore students’ participation in decision-making in the governance of universities will surely enable them to understand how and why decisions are made and help to reduce students’ crises in universities.
Suffice it to say that students’ participation in decision-making of universities can be influenced by the way universities are governed and the administrative set up in universities. In the university system, the administrative set up has the governing council, the senate and the vice chancellor at the top of the administration. Other units like committees, boards, deans of faculties derived their power from the top. The internal administration vest control of power and administration of students and academic staff in the hands of committees that are chaired and controlled by the academics. Academic officers involved in the governance or decision-making processes are deans, directors, heads of departments and professor. Professors remain dominant in academic administration of universities (Okeke, 2007). Thus the vice chancellor uses such principal officers as the deans of faculties, heads of departments, dean of students’ affairs, registrar, librarian, director of works and director of medical services with the senate to make decisions on the seven broad areas of administration which include; staff personnel administration, students personnel administration, regulation of teaching and learning activities, financial management, students discipline, students welfare services and infrastructure (Okeke, 2007). Under this type of administrative set up students may not have opportunity to participate highly in decision-making even in those decisions that concern them in the governance of their institutions because they are expected to study in order to acquire a degree or certificate and are thus exposed to the threats of probation or withdrawal if they fail courses (Ekong, 2001). Esheit (2004) noted that students’ low participation in school decision making is the cause of students’ crisis in schools. Adejuwon and Fatile (2011) also agreed that students’ low participation in decision making is one of the causes of students’ crisis in Nigeria Universities. Durosaro (1998) observed that one common cause of students crisis in Nigeria schools is the communication gap between the students and school authorities ……. at times the students want to be involve in decision making in issues that concern their welfare, but they are denied and they develop resistance. The argument is that when students participate in decision making in issues that concern them in the governance of universities, students’ crisis will end. However, provision can be made for students to take part highly in deciding issues that concern their welfare since their participation highly in institutional governance will help to stop students’ crises in south south universities.
Institutional or educational governance on the other hand is the process by which educational policies are considered and adopted and the mean for conferring on administration the authority for planning and implementing such policies (Platt in Okeke 2007). The purpose of institutional or educational governance is to plan and implement educational policies at the various levels of education (Okeke, 2007). To achieve these objectives, the universities need to evolve decision-making approach that will involve teaching, none teaching staff and students in decision-making so that the interest of all the stakeholders will be protected during decision-making sessions.
It should be noted that the increasing questioning, protest and violet demonstrations by some members of the university communities especially students indicate that some members of the universities are not satisfy with the decision-making approach of universities (Okeke, 2007). According to Okeke, this imply that there is need for university administrators to widen the scope of participation in decision-making of universities and make sure that students participate properly in making decisions that concern their welfare to avoid the increasing protest and violent demonstrations common in south south universities.
It should also be noted that students of University of Calabar demonstrated violently and destroyed property worth millions of naira because of deadline for the payment of tuition fee (Okoro, 2011). Okoro, (2013) also reported that students of university of Uyo demonstrated against the university authority because of increase in tuition fee. Aluede and Aluede (1999) noted that students of Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma embarked on violent demonstration leading to the dead of many students because of cult activities among others.
This campus unrest and its negative consequences necessitated this study which thus intends to investigate the extent of students’ participation in decision-making in issues that concern their welfare in the governance of universities in south south Nigeria. Therefore the study will compare the opinion of students of federal and state universities on the extent of students’ participation in administration decision-making of their universities. This is necessary because students’ characteristics may vary considering the fact that they are states and federal universities. Federal universities are established by the federal government, funded by the federal government students pay less tuition fee, accommodation fee, development fee among others. On the other hand, state universities are established by state governments students pay high tuition fee, accommodation fee, development fee and sport fee among others.
Two Federal and two State Universities are involved in the study. The University of Calabar and University of Uyo are Federal Universities while delta state University Abraka and Niger Delta University, Amassoma represent or are State Universities.
Statement of the Problem
There are many incidences of students’ crises and indiscipline in South-south Nigerian universities. There are also reports of students’ disorderliness, chaos, riot, cultism, boycott of lectures and hooliganism featuring frequently in news papers daily. The consequences of these negative activities include loss of lives, destruction of public and private property, disruption of academic calendar and academic activities, untimely closures of schools, poor academic performance and examination malpractice. This situations do not provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning activities, implementation of school programs and proper achievement of university set goals. Observers believe that students’ low participation in administrative decision making in issues that concern their welfare in the governance of universities and lack of adequate social amenities are causes of student crisis. They argued further that students’ high participation in administrative decision making in issues that concern their welfare may help to reduce students’ crisis. The problem of the study is thus: What is the level of student participation in administrative decision making in the governance of universities in south south Nigerian?
In contemporary management, participation by people who constitute an organization appears to be a panacea for achieving organizational goals. The position of students’ participation in decision-making on matters that affect their welfare in the governance of universities in south south Nigeria is not clear. It is this non clarity that calls for this study to ascertain whether students participate in administrative decision-making on matters that affect their welfare or not.
Purpose of the study
The general purpose of this study is to investigate the level of students’ participation in administrative decision-making in the governance of universities in south-south Nigeria. Specifically the study seeks to;
1. Identify the ways in which students are represented in universities disciplinary committees.
2. Ascertain the extent to which students participate in formulating rules and regulations on students’ union government.
3. Ascertain the ways in which students participate in decision-making on accommodation matters.
4. Determine the extent to which students can participate in decision-making on internally generated revenue such as tuition fee, accommodation fee, among others.
5. Ascertain the ways in which students participate in the selection of their leaders.
Significance of the Study
The theoretical significance of this study is hinged on Abbot (1974) competencies decision-making theory which advocated that an administrator should skillfully consider the involvement of the different groups in an organization before reaching a decision and Altman (1979) bounded rationality decision making theory which seek to identify and select the best alternatives from different organizational temperament and experiences before decisions are made. The findings of this study will be beneficial to students, university administrators, educational, policy makers, government, the public and researchers.
Students’ participation in administrative decision-making in the governance of universities will enable them to gain the knowledge of participative decision-making which is democratic. It will enable students to imbibe democratic principles of patience, endurance, and tolerance and since Nigeria is under party and democratic government, students will have the opportunity to take part favorably in the practice of democracy going on in Nigeria. Students will therefore help in explaining to some members of the public the need for political participation. That is taking part in political activities such as: belonging to political party, registration of voters, and voting during election among others. This will go along way to fast tract the development and practice of democracy in Nigeria which is universally accepted and globally in vogue.
Students participation in decision-making will help to stop the negatives consequences of students’ crises such as lose of lives, destruction of public and private property, disruptions of academic calendar, examination malpractice and poor academic performance by students. Therefore there will be peace in universities to enable academic and non academic activities to go on smoothly. It will enable students to know how decisions are made and how to contribute to them. They will also acquire the knowledge of group decision-making that is very democratic and universally accepted and this will enable them to practice participatory decision-making even after school life.
University administrators will benefit from student participation in decision-making as their democratic approach to administration will be supported and appreciated by all and thus enable the implementation of educational policies and achievement of teaching and learning objectives.
The study will provide useful information for policy makers on the state of students’ participation in decision-making and will serve as a guide to them in making and implementing policies on students welfare matters.
As students involvement in decision-making end students crises and peace returns to universities, the government is satisfy that the universities are going on uninterrupted. The general public will also benefit from the peaceful progressive learning environment because universities will become less disruptive and chaotic.
The study will offer useful sources of information to students who would want to research further into this problem or related problem within or outside south south Nigeria. The study will also contribution to learning by providing literature for researchers and developing decision-making theory that is “students’ participation in decision-making theory”.
Scope of the Study
This study would have covered all universities in Nigeria because low participation by students in decision-making and its consequences is a problem of administration in Nigeria universities, but the rate at which students demonstrate against university authorities in south south Nigeria, lack of resources and time, and for effective research work, the researcher limited the study to only public universities excluding private universities in south south Nigeria. Geographically this study is carried out in all public universities in south-south Nigeria (See Appendix I for Public Universities in south south Nigeria).
The content scope of students’ participation in decision making in this study covers five dimension which includes: student representation in the university disciplinary panels, student participation in the formulation of rules and regulations on the student union governments, students participation in decision making on accommodation related matters like: number of students’ per room, increase in accommodation fee among others, students’ participation in decision making on internally generated revenue and students’ participation in decision making in the selection of student leaders.
The following are the research questions for this study:
1. In what ways are students’ represented in university disciplinary committee of their universities?
2. To what extent do students’ participate in the formulation of rules and regulation on student union government?
3. In what ways do students’ participate in administrative decision-making on accommodation related matters?
4. To what extent do students’ participate in administrative decision-making in internally generated revenue?
5. In what ways do students’ participate in administrative decision making in the selection of student leaders?
The following null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.
Ho1: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students of federal and state universities on the ways students are represented in universities disciplinary committees.
Ho2: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students of federal and state universities on the extent to which students participate in the formulation of rules and regulations on students’ Union government.
Ho3: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students of federal and state universities on the ways students participate in administrative decision-making on accommodation matters.
Ho4: There is no significant difference between the mean responses of students of federal and state universities on the extent to which students participate in deciding internally generated revenue.