One of the criteria for landing a job in Nigeria is to have an NYSC certificate, which the Open University graduates do not have.
If the students of any university in Nigeria are very happy at the moment over NYSC, the excitement is not coming from the first choice universities.
It is a happy time for the students of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) as the Senate finally grants their wishes to participate in National Youth Service Corps scheme and Law School programs.
The NOUN graduates, who have not been participating in these national programs since the establishment of their school now have the opportunity to serve their fatherland through NYSC schemes.
The non-accommodation of NOUN graduates in the Law School and NYSC programs is one of the reasons many consider the school and its students inferior to their counterparts in the conventional universities.
This is because the law that first established the university in 1982 made it an Open and Distance Learning institution and as such the university graduates are disqualified from participating in the one year National Youth Service Corps Scheme.
A lot of Nigerians believe the open university is only open to those who want to juggle livelihood and university education, even though the institution was envisioned to deliver university education to the door steps of every interested Nigerian.
This belief is given more credence as the motto of the university, which is "work and learn" strongly suggests the institution is established for the gainfully employed who wish to have a degree certificate.
However, a lot of secondary school leavers who have repeatedly failed to gain admission into the conventional universities have run to the open arms of NOUN for university education.
That makes NOUN a suitable school not only for working people but also for admission seekers who have tried and are tired of writing the Joint Admission and Matriculation Examinations.
Often time, the mode of operation of this university and the disqualification of its graduates from National graduate compulsory programs have caused a lot of disparities between NOUN graduates and their counterparts in other universities.
An average undergraduate of a federal, state and private university in Nigeria believes NOUN students are inferior to those in other universities because they are viewed as part-time students who would never have the privilege of serving their fatherland in NYSC kits.
This disparity is further accentuated by employers.
One of the criteria for landing a job in Nigeria is to have an NYSC certificate, which the Open University graduates through the Act that established their school are denied.
This seems to make the NOUN graduate less-qualified for any job even though they are qualified in other areas.
This discrimination continued for everyone who has his education and degree in the National Open University until Thursday, June 6, when the Senate made effort to put an end to the discrimination and declared NOUN graduates worthy of NYSC and Law School programs.
Following an amendment to the act establishing the National Open University of Nigeria, (NOUN) the Senate approved Law school and NYSC scheme for the university graduates .
Expectedly, the beneficiaries of the lawmakers' decisions -students of the university- have been reacting to what most of them believe is a good news.
Pulse reached out to some of the students to seek their reactions to the development and it is not surprising that everyone seems to be enthusiastic about the news.
The coordinator of HORLLERCH, a NOUN accredited tutorial centre, Abdur-Rasheed Sulaimon said the news is a good thing for the school and the undergraduates.
"It is a nice development, a very interesting one as well. This is an awaiting development by the student and the public right now. Majority of the students who are still within NYSC eligibility age can now sleep and rest very well and with this, the institute will get more recognition in the labour market"
Sulaimon who is also a graduate of the school believes that the development would add more values to the university.
"'As we know, a working class who enrols in an institution needs the certificate either to improve himself or upgrade his position in office. So, all student are very happy (about the news) because it adds to the value of their institute"'.
Elizabeth Joseph, a 300L student of the school said she was expecting the development.
''I am not surprised because I know they have no choice than to approve it. Since it is applicable to other institutions, why not NOUN" she quarried.
Another student of the school, simply identified as M. Bello said "It is an addition for those who appreciate the idea of NYSC"
She said further, "to an extent, I want to believe that apart from serving the country, NYSC certificate has become a means of gaining employment, which has become an avid requirement. This means that NOUN students have the same opportunities as those from other universities. This also extends the hand of equality with other Tertiary Institutions as in many cases, NOUN certificates are considered "Inferior" compared to other tertiary institutions".
However, while many NOUN students are excited to serve the nation under the sun or in the rain as NYSC wants them to, a 300L student, Jeff Ani, whose views about the development represent the gainfully employed students of the University thinks going for NYSC for a whole year is a waste of time.
"As an Entrepreneurship & Business Management student and a business owner, I think my time would be better utilised".
Speaking on the importance of NYSC, Ani believes the scheme has lost its relevance.
"Who NYSC don epp?, In my opinion, it has since lost its purpose given the corruption that has seeped into the process, to those to whom it is good for, good for them. As for me and others like myself, we'll pass. Ani said.
ALSO READ: Prison Inmate to enroll for Ph.D in NOUN
However, the report of the committee which eventually led to the Senate approval of NYSC and Law School programs for NOUN graduates states that the move was meant to bring the institution at par with the regular universities in the country.
The committee chaired by Senator Jibrin Barau also submitted that the objective of the bill was first to amend the existing legislation with a view to removing the perception of the public that the school is not a full-time university.
The second objective as stated in the report was to include Information and Communication Technology as another means of providing tuition towards the advancement of learning throughout Nigeria since NOUN as currently run, depends critically on virtual learning and students’ individual research.
While the bulk of the students of NOUN see the good side of their qualification for NYSC and Law school, others like Ani believe the Law School program is good for Law graduates while the NYSC scheme is a share waste of everybody's time.
The Senate has ostensibly answered the prayers of the greater percentage of the students of the open university, especially those who chose NOUN out of admission frustration.
Since the open university is no longer for the work and learn clique, who are above the NYSC required age, it only makes sense to allow the young NOUN graduates to have NYSC experience provided the scheme still has the feel it was known for when the seven-over-seven kit used to be a uniform of pride.
However, with this development, it is only hoped that the negative perception the public hold of the open university would peter out as their qualification and eligibility for NYSC schemes and Law School programs have been stamped by the Lawmakers.