A first-of-its-kind collaboration between Morgan State University (MSU) and the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), a fiduciary and funding agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, will bring more than 70 Nigerian doctoral students and more than 15 Nigerian postdoctoral students to MSU for scholarship and research during the fall 2021 semester, the university announced Wednesday.
A significant increase in applicants yielded more acceptances in the program surpassing original projections. A TETFund delegation of eight administrators visited Morgan State’s campus in person and virtually June 21-23 to meet with senior MSU administrators, discuss the proposed and ongoing research of the doctoral students being funded by the program and to learn more about the research and development capabilities of Morgan State, a public urban research university and the largest historically Black college or university (HBCU) in the state.
Yacob Astatke, D.Eng., assistant vice president for Morgan’s Division of International Affairs, said the demand for admission to MSU through the MSU-TETFund partnership this year greatly exceeded expectations, as more than 600 students applied. He anticipates multiple benefits to Morgan from the success of the partnership, as Nigeria produces intellectual capital to advance the nation toward its goals.
The partnership’s framework enables early, mid-level and senior career faculty and staff members of Nigeria’s 238 public universities, colleges of education and polytechnics to pursue their doctoral degrees and postdoctoral research at Morgan in fields ranging from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to the liberal arts.
The MSU-TETFund partnership was launched in May 2020 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding. However, the program’s timeline was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic during its inaugural year, which saw 17 Nigerian doctoral students engage in virtual and/or in-person learning at MSU in Fall 2020 through Spring 2021. The TETFund’s five-year agreement with Morgan is designed to create a pathway for students to pursue doctorates and postdoctoral research in disciplines relevant to the developmental needs of Nigeria and move Morgan State further toward fulfillment of its global aspirations.
The agreement provides the doctoral students with scholarships and other grants to fully fund their tuition, fees and living expenses for at least three years and also calls for TETFund’s establishment of Centers of Excellence in Nigeria, institutions designed to increase the research capacity of Nigerian higher education institutions through collaborative research with MSU.
Astatke also anticipates a significant enhancement of Morgan State’s brand recognition and influence in Africa.