Mass Communication is one of the courses most Universities in Nigeria want to offer from inception. In most parts of the World especially Western societies, this course is offered in the Media and Communication department, a title adopted basically to accommodate the dynamics of increasing sophistication of the society.
Whether the course is called Media and Communication, Communication and Multi-media Studies, Communication Arts, or related names, the fact is that this discipline has basic requirements which Universities should have before offering the course to the public. But guess what, that’s not always the case. In fact, in most cases it is not so. Some universities that have National Universities Commission (NUC) accreditation are also guilty of providing below par training in Mass Communication due to lack of basic facilities.
So here is a list of 15 top characteristics that you can use to know whether you are wasting your time in a particular institution thinking you are studying Mass Communication, Media and Communication or Communication Arts. I guess you were hoping to see an actual list of Universities that are guilty of this ‘scam’. Well, this is a safe presentation of those names. You may decide to mention your own school when you see these features. This list is based on a study conducted among some lecturers of Nigerian universities, including the use of NUC benchmark for departments of Mass Communication. If you notice some of these features in any department of Mass Communication, note that students in that department are victims of an official scam! Here are 15 characteristics of the worst places in Nigeria to study Mass Communication.
1. Absence of Functional Studio
This is perhaps one of the most pathetic characteristics of a terrible place to study Mass Communication. Functional radio and television studios are facilities that cannot be comprised in any place you plan to enroll for a course in Mass Communication. We are not talking about campus radio station. Some universities have popular campus radio station but the demonstration studio which is the one used to train students is either absent or was locked up after the last NUC accreditation exercise in that department. You won’t believe some students finished from the University as graduates of Mass Communication without ever setting eyes on a console. That’s terrible; and there are institutions like this in Nigeria. There is also need for Photographic Journalism lab, and Lighting lab which provide students classroom and lab facilities with an emphasis on visual media. Some institutions have good studios in terms of structure but the facilities inside are either non-functional or inadequate. Check this before you enroll. If it is absent then note that the place is running an official scam.
Typical TV Studio, Midwestern State University, Texas, USA
2. Absence of Functional Lab
Every serious Mass Communication department has Advertising and Public Relations Lab. This is where students meet to discuss field work and other practical aspects of these two strings of mass communication. You find projector facility for display of advert productions done by students, posters, banners, internet-ready computer facilities, camera, colour printing machine, among others. Students engage in meaningful discussions while planning productions. If this is absent then there’s a problem with that department. Some Ad and PR labs are also used as photo studio since the functions are related. We also place newsroom in this sub-section. A functional newsroom is one of the features of a serious Mass Communication department even in this social media age. Mainstream newspapers and magazines are still strong pillars in the media industry. If the department does not have functional Ad and PR lab, and newsroom, check again before you enroll to study Mass Communication there.
3. No Meaningful Practical Exercise
We just discussed functional laboratories as essential requirements in serious Mass Communication departments. That is to show that this discipline basically thrives on practical work. There are schools that pay little or no attention to practical aspects of the course either due to lack of facilities or laxity on the part of teaching staff. Students are rarely given field work to do – newspaper or magazine production, advert production, case studies in public relations, film production, radio/television programmes, among others. There are communication schools where students are given practical exercise but the lecturers do not take the works seriously; so students pay little attention to details. Check for this feature before you enroll. Stay away from such schools.
4. Lecturers Are Not ICT Compliant
Surprised? Don’t be. There are communication schools where lecturers are still stuck in the Stone Age (permit me to use that expression). If you studied in such a school, try to do your Masters in another school where the lecturers are cyber natives, you will definitely notice the difference. Mass communication is very dynamic and in this ICT age, only lecturers who understand the environment of ICT fit into the dynamism communication that education in contemporary society requires.
5. Lecture Notes Are Virtually The same Every Year
You won’t believe that some lecturers are still using the notes they used like more than 6 years ago to teach today’s students. Advancement in information technology redefines the communication environment almost every semester. So lecture notes should change virtually every semester; may be not the entire note but a good percentage. Of course, topics treated could be largely the same but approaches and examples change with the dynamism of the society. If that didn’t happen in your school or is not happening now, then you are stuck in the past. That’s why when you graduate from such schools and move into the society you automatically feel like someone who was lifted from Ukraine where you probably grew up, kicked out of an air plane in the middle of the flight only to land in North Korea. Where do you begin to adapt?
6. No Functional Publication
Just like the Ad & PR lab, newspapers and magazines are essential parts of any serious Mass Communication department. Students learn a lot from such publications. News gathering techniques are put into practice here. This is why a functional newsroom is always necessary in any serious Mass Communication department.
7. Lack of Good Teaching Facilities
Good teaching facilities are very essential for meaning communication education. A classroom with projectors for instance, makes it easy for teachers to display lectures that may have audio-visual contents. There are communication departments like that in Nigeria. But unfortunately a lot are still stuck in the past. Teaching Mass Communication in such schools is a scam. If you doubt it ask those who graduated from such schools their impression about classrooms without essential ICT-based teaching aids. Believe me, they won’t lie to you.
8. Population In Class
There is a limit to what one lecturer can carry especially in a department of Mass Communication where virtually every course is loaded with practical content. There are so many Mass Communication departments where you have over 100 students in every class, and one lecturer probably teaches three or four courses. Now you’re involved. It seems common but the nature of Mass Communication as a discipline is such that there is need for as few as 40 or less students in one class, or at most 80 students so the facilities in the department will meaningfully accommodate them and lecturers will have time for all of them. Note that in some schools, 100 level classes could have large number because the courses are core to most students who then start specializing in higher classes, reducing the number in classes. Students also borrow courses at lower levels but where the number in class is too high, team-teaching is suggested. Courses such as News writing require thorough examination of weekly stories submitted by each student. So in those schools where you have over 200 students in one class, especially 200 level and above, the scam is huge. Even if the facilities can carry such number, you need up to four lecturers to be team-teaching each course for any meaningful impact to be made.
9. Lecturers Offices
Lecturers also need some level of comfort in their offices for meaningful activities to take place especially out-of-class discussions with students. Poorly equipped and furnished offices could affect the output of the lecturer and this is bad news for communication education.
10. Web Presence of Staff
This is what shows that the lecturers are grounded in communication research. There are lecturers that when you Google their name what you see is their Facebook profile and postings; no publications, research activities and international seminar paper presentations. So how do you keep abreast of emerging international trends in the field of Mass Communication if you lack web presence?
This is also bad news for communication education because the students will be stuck in the past. They can only get what is fed them except they study on their own.
11. Staff Strength
Some schools have very few lecturers teaching so many courses. You could find between 5-10 full-time staff each teaching 5 or 6 courses. It sounds unbelievable but it’s true. Some engage part-time or adjunct lecturers most of whom are never as serious as the full-time staff. Mass Communication is a discipline that requires concentration on the part of lecturers and students. Once you give so much burden to the lecturers they cannot give the best required of such highly technical training.
12. Constant Power supply
This sounds embarrassing but it is a problem some schools are struggling to deal with in Nigeria. Most institutions are powered by generating sets which come on within specific hours. Once the generator breaks down the entire institution functions without power supply; and this is what a number of schools suffer. No serious training in Mass Communication can take place within such environment. This is why so many studios and labs are abandoned in some Mass Communication departments in Nigeria. This point should have been treated under “lack of facilities” but it is so serious we had to isolate it. Check before you enroll.
13. Internet Facility
There are schools in Nigeria where the department of Mass Communication has wi-fi facility. Some schools have this feature in every department but in some others it is in the Mass Communication and a few other departments. This is very important for meaningful communication education in this digital age. A number of Mass Communication departments are still stuck in the past. Lecturers have to provide their own internet facilities otherwise they would be behind the rest of the world in communication education. Some do not bother because of cost of doing so. It is a facility that a serious department of Mass Communication should have. A great deal of communication activities in modern times requires online access.
14. Good Library, especially e-library
This is one of the basic requirements of the NUC for accrediting a department of Mass Communication. But as was pointed out earlier, never use NUC accreditation to rate the currency of a department. It is possible that a well equipped e-library ‘evaporated’ as NUC completed their accreditation and left or that the facilities packed up years after NUC accreditation. You need a functional e-library for serious communication education to exist. You also need a good offline physical library with current books to keep students abreast of dynamics of modern communication environment.
15. Good Classroom environment
This may be a general requirement for every serious department but it matters a lot to the study of mass communication. Classroom environment aids meaningful teaching and learning. Some classrooms lack basic facilities for ventilation and illumination with pathetic chalk boards that reflect laxity on the part of the institution. There are universities in Nigeria with very conducive classroom environments, including air conditioner and projector facilities to make teaching and learning of mass communication easy. Some other school have classrooms that look like torture camps where students are made to sit unwillingly and listen to a sweating lecturer screaming out a lecture to a multitude of students, without public address system. Check before you enroll.
After reading this piece you can tell yourself the truth; if you’re already a graduate of this discipline, were you scammed? If you’re still in school are you being scammed? If up to 60% of these characteristics exist in the department where you studied note that you were officially scammed. No hard feelings. It is what it is. That is why when you graduate from such departments you get into the society and wonder what is happening in the field. Oftentimes you discover that what you studied is at variance with what obtains practically in the field.
So if you want to enroll into any university to study Mass Communication, Communication Arts, Media and Communication, or Communication and Multi-media Studies, better do an underground research to ensure you’re not embarking on a career suicide mission. Don’t get deceived by the fact that a particular department has NUC accreditation. Sometimes it is better you do your personal research before choosing a particular school.
If there are points you do not agree with or a feature you think we missed out, please let us know. We will be glad to get your response.