Chris Cumming and F. A. Olaloku
The Correspondence and Open Studies Institute (COSIT) is an institute of the University of Lagos, Nigeria, having been established in 1974 as a Correspondence and Open Studies Unit. The University of Lagos (UNILAG) itself was established in 1962. The University as a whole has some 13,000 regular students and well over 650 academic staff. There is, therefore, a substantial and high-quality academic and administrative set-up on which COSIT can depend in several ways. For instance, COSIT students are students of the University of Lagos except that they are non-residential. Their qualifications, moreover, are the same as the regular students since both sets of students—COSIT and regular—take the same or equivalent examinations.
In essence the objectives of COSIT are to bring university education to learners at home while, at the same time, enabling these learners to continue to provide their skills to the labour market. The existing fields of study— science teaching, business administration, accounting—all reflect national manpower shortages. One aim, which was set in 1975, concerns the provision of non-formal education in selected communities. As yet, financing difficulties have not allowed the pursuit of such an aim, although there are ideas for both markets and courses, for example, management of local government finance.
In 1975-76 there were approximately 300 students registered with COSIT. Now 1 there are about 4,000. They come from virtually all the states of the federation. On account of the stringent entrance requirements—not to mention course requirements—students are mainly teachers and public servants, although there are employees of private sector organisations. The minimum age at entry is 25, while the age range extends to 50. Approximately one-third of those admitted are women.
COSIT students are not external students of the University of Lagos. They enjoy parity of status with the regular students. Nevertheless, it is recognised that students living several hundred kilometres from their university require various kinds of support from university teachers and from each other. Hence within the COSIT arrangement there is the concept of a nationwide network of outstations, each based within an existing institution of higher education. Currently only seven are fully operational 2