The National Universities Commission (NUC) took a decision in December 2019 to unbundle Mass Communication into seven separate degree programmes to meet present demand and this will take effect from 2020 admissions into Nigerian universities. The seven new Programmes/Departments, to be domiciled in a Faculty/School/College of Communication and Media Studies are: Journalism & Media Studies, Public Relations, Advertising, Broadcasting, Film & Multi-Media Studies, Development Communication Studies, and Information & Media Studies.
The National Board for Technical Education, NBTE, which supervises, regulates and oversees polytechnic education in Nigeria has yet to take the decision to unbundle Mass Communication programmes in the nation’s polytechnics. However, it may no longer be a question of “if” but when the NBTE will take the decision to direct the unbundling of Mass Communication programmes in Nigerian polytechnics. This is primarily due to the implications of not joining the Universities in following the direction of mass communication education in the country.
For departments of Mass Communication in Polytechnics that do not eventually unbundle their OND/HND programmes programme bad news will come your way in the long run. Polytechnics in Nigeria need to adopt the new curriculum for mass communication education now because unbundling is a gradual process which has to be started early. Here’s a list of terrible things that will happen to Mass Communication departments in Nigerian Polytechnics do not unbundle their Diploma programme into the seven new programmes which Universities have already adopted as approved by the NUC;
1. Diploma programme in Mass Communication will become inferior
The term ‘inferior’ is even a fair one. At a point it will carry a stigma. Both staff and students will be seen as ‘old school’ humans. How can you say you are a lecturer or student of the Department of Mass Communication in a country where such a department no longer exists as a single degree/diploma awarding programme but a faculty that houses seven fantastic programmmes? You can imagine the impression. You won’t want it so begin the unbundling process now!
2. The department will not have new students
Of course, everyone will love to move with the upwardly mobile, exciting tide taking communication studies in Nigeria to more relevant, skill-based levels. Even Jambites will run away from polytechnics except as a last option. No one will willingly enroll into any polytechnic to read mass communication when the person is aware that mass communication is now run as a Facutly in Universities, not singe-degree department. Parents will want the latest good thing in town for their kids. This means avoiding your department like it’s an infectious disease. Believe me, it will get this bad.
3. The department will lose serious lecturers
There will be several opportunities for lecturers to grow in the new programmes. They won’t want to remain in your “mass communication” or “communication arts” department because at a point those programmes will sound like backward terms. In the new, very interesting programmes approved by the NUC (which the NBTE should quickly adopt), lecturers will get to specialize in their areas of interest and focus research, book writing, and other academic activities in this area. Serious lecturers with career focus will not like to remain in an ‘old school’ department of mass communication when their colleagues are measuring up with others across the world in programmes such as Journalism and Media Studies, Development Communication, Film and Multimedia Studies, Information and Media Studies, Broadcasting, Public Relations, Advertising. “So which one is your department,” a colleague will ask in an academic conference. Then you answer “mass communication” probably in a muffled voice because of the lack of confidence the old school department has forced on you. Then your colleague who heard this will ask you whether you are the Dean of that faculty because by then no one will remember that mass communication was once a department in Nigerian universities. It won’t matter if you’re a lecturer in a Polytechnic. What will matter is that you are working as a lecturer in a faculty, not department. Except your Polytechnic approves the unbudling of your own Mass Communication department, you will be operating in the past. Believe me, this will happen one day if you don’t start the process of splitting your programme into the new programmes.
4. NBTE will come after the department
If the NBTE eventually approves the new curriculum for Mass Communication education and your own Polytechnic does not unbundle this department, with time your department by just fizzle out. This is just very clear. At a point NBTE will no longer accredit ‘old school’ mass communication departments. The system must have moved forward so nothing that was dumped to make way for the next level will be revived. All ‘old school’ departments of mass communication should note that their present accreditation might be the last. Once this expires there may not be renewal from NBTE, once the programme is officially approved by this regulatory body. So it is better for Mass Communication departments in Polytechnics to get proactive and begin new to look at how to unbundle their department into seven new diploma awarding programmes even before the new curriculum is made official..
5. Lecturers will be retarded academically
This is a disturbing possibility. While your colleagues are focusing on exciting areas of specialization in the new programmes you’re still carrying the burden of a faculty in one department called Mass Communication. Get this fact clearly: While Mass Communication is being run as a faculty in universities you are still carrying the burden of running it as a department in Polytechnics. How can you cope? How would you progress? BY the time your Polytechnic unbundles the programme that is when you will realize that you’ve not really done much in a specific area of specialization because you were carrying the burden of teaching an entire faculty as a department. It will be difficult to grow. You will be retarded academically. You won’t like this experience so get you HOD to begin the process of packaging a proposal on how to unbundle your department into the new programmes. You can start with as low as three of the new programmes, depending on the competencies available to your department.
6. The department will be seen as ‘old school’ and probably lose collaborations with international agencies
Most institutions outside this country will see your department as backward and wouldn’t want to identify with you in terms of academic collaborations. Even funding agencies might begin to reject staff of your department once they find out that you are teaching in a department that no longer exists in your country. This sounds bizarre but it’s a disturbing possibility. Don’t let it happen. Begin the process of unbundling your department now.
7. The polytechnic management might come after the Head of Department
This might happen after NBTE has officially approved the new curriculum for Mass Communication Education already being used in Nigerian universities. At some point the Rector of your school would want to know why your own department has not come up with a proposal on how to unbundle, how many new programmes you want to start, and modalities on how to run the new faculty of communication and media studies. No HOD would want to be seen as the cause of this delay. You won’t like the embarrassing outcome from management, staff and students. Make the effort first; write the proposal to the management and follow it up in the interest of your staff and students.
8. Lecturers will feel inferior at some point
Lecturers who have conscience will definitely feel inferior, especially when they attend conferences and discover that they are now ‘old school’ lecturers. Their colleagues now operating the new programmes have all moved ahead into exciting areas of specialization. The ‘old school’ lecturers will definitely feel inferior and isolated. How would you feel being referred to as a lecturer in department of Mass Communication in a country where such department no longer exists officially? The stigma is better imagined. Just advise your HOD to begin the process of unbundling your department immediately. This is because unbundling is a gradual process which has to be started early. Believe me; it is cool today to be called a lecturer in the department of mass communication. But once many universities unbundle this programme you won’t be at home with that reference again, whether you are teaching in a polytechnic or university where the old programme format is still in place. This is not a prediction; it is a fact that must happen if you don’t unbundle your department of mass communication.
9. Students will feel inferior at some point
This will happen especially when they go for Internship Programme (IT) and meet their colleagues from other institutions. While the other students are talking about department of Film and Media Students, Advertising, Public Relations, Development Communication, your own students will be talking about department of Mass Communication. They will feel like ‘old school’ students and they won’t be happy with their HOD and lecturers when they return from IT. You don’t need anyone to tell you that if you don’t unbundle with other universities your own Mass Communication students will feel like ‘old school’ and that draws inferiority complex; except you don’t care about your students.
10. It’s lights out for Tetfund support
No one will support illegality. If you’re still operating an ‘old school’ department of mass communication, the management of your school will not be willing to spend Tetfund money on the department or its staff. They will be seen as backward so no need to support backwardness in terms of Ph.D grants, sponsorship to conferences and other academic programmes that require funding. This is simply logical.
Don’t even argue these points. These are neither prophecies nor predictions. They are facts that will surely happen if your department does not comply. So begin now to plan on how to split mass communication programme in your school into the seven new programmes instead of sitting back and waiting for NBTE approval. Your time starts now!