Andrew is a smart, dark and lanky 26-year old. He just rounded off his National Youth Service (NYSC) at Benue state. His choice of career for the future is clear, to become a lecturer at the higher institution. One of his lecturers at the polytechnic and mentor had advised Andrew to take up a career as a lecturer. His brilliance at his polytechnic study has even him an edge for employment. Andrew finished his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Chemical Engineering with a Distinction. All he needed to get an offer letter was a recommendation and a letter of admission for a master degree. The latter became a bottle neck to achieve.
Challenge for HND Graduates
Getting direct admission to masters degree for most HND graduates has become difficult or almost impossible. Like the hypothetical case of Andrew, it paints the reality of many HND graduates. It is after polytechnic graduation, the difference between HND and Bachelors degree become clear. It begins on simpler terms like not being recognized as a Graduate, Engineer, Banker etc. It goes further to discrimination at recruitment stages of employment. When HND holders try to even up with a postgraduate degree, the same discrimination rears its ugly head.
Virtually all federal universities refuse masters degree admission to HND graduates. At University of Lagos, like many of its counterparts, HND graduates are expected to rather apply for a postgraduate diploma (PGD) before proceeding for a master degree. Many HND holders rather re-apply for direct entry through JAMB. They spend 2-3 years of undergraduate study and graduate as Bachelor degree graduates.
Policy Makers gives a Reprieve for HND graduates.. Can do better
A recent order by the Federal government seems to have solved the issues about the HND/Bachelor degree difference partially. The office of the Head of Civil Service had said the dichotomy between BSc. And HND graduates would stop. This meant that, in federal government employment, a BSc. and HND graduate would be employed to the same grade and level. While this solved part of the problem, it didn’t remove the need for a PGD when seeking admission. Rather, it entrenches the need for a PGD. The Guardian report that the National Council on Establishment (NCE), approved postgraduate diploma (PGD) as a bridge to acquiring a master degree in the relevant field of study.
As it stands, after 6 years of polytechnic study to bag a HND (OND- 2 + 1 year internship and HND- 2 + 1 year internship). The HND graduate goes for the mandatory NYSC. He/she would need 2 years for a postgraduate diploma before beginning a master degree study. That is nine (9) years of post secondary years to qualify. It such a long and tortuous stretch.
It would be good if government and policy makers change the rules for the benefit of teeming polytechnic graduates. University authorities, polytechnic Rectors and other stakeholders should push for a remodel of masters entry qualification. Hopefully, it gets better for the HND graduates.