Dear Governor Emmanuel,
lease be so kind to observe the Incomes and Annual Research Expenditures of the following Universities as a take-off point in my discussion on wealth creation.
Harvard University – $41.9bn ($1.1bn Annual Research Expenditure—ARE); University of Texas system – $30.8bn ($652M); Yale University – $29bn ($951M); Stanford University – $26bn ($1.1bn); Princeton University $25bn ($326M); Massachusetts Institute of Technology – $16.5bn ($952M); University of Pennsylvania $13.7bn ($1.3bn) (Barham J, 2021).
These universities above are the top seven (7) richest and wealthiest universities in the world. The figures attached are the current worth of their endowment funds and corresponding annual research expenditures in parenthesis. An endowment fund is a pool of funds from donations made to an academic institution which is invested in real and financial assets to provide a source of funding for the institution to cover salaries, scholarships, research, and development. Universities in the US have perfected the art of creating endowment funds and investing these funds in long-term endeavours. This explains the high concentration of noble laureates in the US and continuous groundbreaking discoveries in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities.
Globally, it is established that no country invests as much as the United States of America in research and development and this reflects immensely in their technological advancement, economic growth, job, and wealth creation. Most of the Fortune 500 companies in the world are from the U.S and these seven universities have played a major role in birthing some of the biggest technology companies on the planet and continue to serve as an incubator for start-ups thereby providing jobs and fuelling economic growth.
Akwa Ibom is blessed with over sixteen (16) higher institutions of learning and with recent approvals given to some private universities and the future Federal University of Science and Technology, this figure will rise. Nonetheless, a vital question is how can these institutions play the catalytic role of accelerating economic growth in the 21st century. As a state, we must begin to harness the benefits of having such a number of institutions. With sixteen higher academic citadels, unemployment should remain at negligible rates, the standard of living and quality of life should be comparable with other global sub-national entities, and other countries by extension.
Akwa Ibom State University (AKSU) and the University of Uyo are amongst the oldest universities in the State, and by reckoning, should be leaders and models for other institutions as wealth creators, which, however, seems not the case. There appears no data on Annual Research Expenditure for these universities or Endowment funds.
Your excellency, as the Chancellor of AKSU, I believe your focus on wealth creation can be extended to AKSU where the university can be mandated to invest a percentage of their annual allocation from the state. For example, to ensure transparency and efficiency, Harvard university set up a management company to manage the assets of the university. Establishing an endowment fund for AKSU will ensure that in the long-term, the university will be self-sufficient and independent in running its affairs and will also serve as an incubator for start-ups, thereby guaranteeing employment opportunities for the teeming youth population.
Another country with a similar approach is Israel. Israel has the highest number of start-ups in the world and this correlates with the fact that Israel invests significantly in Research and Development. Israeli universities like Tel-Aviv University has an endowment fund which it invests and meticulously allocates profits from the funds to research, scholarships, professorships, fellowships, and programs. Today, Israel is a global leader in biotechnology, life sciences, defence and military technologies.
Your Excellency, most global academic institutions have transitioned from being a one-stop learning centre to active participation in wealth and job creations through research. Research is capital intensive and as it is said in the business world – “you have to spend money to make money”, therefore. AKSU and other universities within the state must be re-positioned to drive growth and wealth and be a model for other academic institutions.
Dr. Edwin. Okon, Jnr, MD, MRCS (Edinburgh)
e-mail: email@example.com Tel: (+234) 09074666036.