New students tends to be curious and confused after gaining admission into the National Open University of Nigeria as their expectations seems to be different after been admitted. We will be guiding prospects and new students on what to expect and what things to be done to make good use of their time in NOUN so as not to waste precious time and get to know some important things later on when the time is wrong or has been wasted.
Many already knows the National Open University to be a distance learning institution which is true and many expect the institution to already maintain it's standards just like other top international distance learning institution.
The truth of the matter is that NOUN is a work in progress and a lot of things are still not in place in comparison to top international distance learning institution.
So after gaining admission into NOUN, these are the things expected of new intakes to do to makle good use of their time in NOUN.
1. Fund your student wallet in accordance to your programme.
2. Do semester, course and examination registration.
3. Print out your wallet, course, and examination slips.
4. Go to your study centre for course materials collection and other important manuals or handbook, bags etc.
5. Download materials you were not given online.
6. Join various NOUN Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook and other social media groups you can find online.
7. Create a study plan and start reading your e-course materials or hard copy materials
8. Activate your NOUN official email and your e-ticketing/support portal
9. Always check your social media handles and NOUN official email for important information from the instituion if you can't frequent your study centre.
10. Check your mails regularly for facilitation info. and other updates.
11. Check the NOUN official website and telegram regularly for general information.
12. Get ready for Tutor Marked Assignment (TMA).
13. Make use of our online resources to get set for NOUN examination
Quick Walk Through NOUN
The study centres of open universities form part of the detached programme of the university framed to provide extensive modern and efficient student support services to the students.
The university assigns an important role to contact sessions at the study centres and this is expected to help the students both academically and personally.
The study centre is equipped to with staff to fulfil these functions. In the National Open University of Nigeria, a study centre is under normal conditions, headed by senior academic staff (usually a professor and associate professors or senior lecturers).
It has to be noted that there are some centres however that are under the leadership of senior non-academic staff like Chief Counsellors or Deputy Registrars.
The Director of the study centre is supported by counsellors and Administrative Officers of various cadres. Usually, the number of the study centre staff is dictated by the population of the students in the centre.
Other staff available in the centre are accountants, information communication technology staff, clerical officers and cleaners. However, the organization of the study centre is left in the hands of the director of the centre.
The support services of the centre are entrusted in the hands of these staff.
The learners’ support activities that go on in the study centre can be divided into academic and non-academic activities. These shall be discussed briefly as follows:
Pre-Admission and Admission Process
It is expected that prospective candidates should visit the study centres for inquiries about the admission process. At this point, the job of directing the prospective student on what to do to secure admission for their desired course are handled by the counsellors and the administrative officers.
Where necessary, the counsellors would guide the student to take the course he/she is most fitted for based on the basic qualifications of the prospective student. At this stage also, all necessary information about fees and the course demands are explained to the students. At the end of the admission process, the student proceeds to the registration stage.
The payment of the fees marked the commencement of the student’s formal registration. There are three types of fees:
a. The compulsory fees which are made up of fees peculiar to new students such as orientation and matriculation fees, library fees and laboratory fees among others.
b. Course Registration fees: course registration fees are determined by the course units and based on the open policy of the university, the student can register for the number of courses that he/she wants. It is not compulsory to register for all the courses, however, the minimum credit load a student can register for is 10 credit unit per semester.
c. Examination fees: the students pay between 1500 (undergraduate) to 3000 (postgraduate) naira per course.
The student has the opportunity to pay these fees in instalments as long as all fees are completed by the end of the registration period that is usually between six to eight weeks. You need to know that until a student pays the examination fees, tutor-marked assignments however would not be made available to the student on the elearn portal.
In order to register, the student would go to the portal and click on the register courses button. As soon as this is done, all the courses available for that session would be opened up and the students would click add to pick the desired courses. At the end of this, the student can proceed to register for examination by clicking the register exams button. The two registrations would be printed out in triplicate.
At the end of the registration process, the student is expected to return two copies of the admission form, letter of admission and proof of fee payment and the registration forms to the study centre. The third copy, endorsed by the counsellor, is returned to the student and it would serve as a proof to the store officer for the issuing of the available print course materials.
Other course materials that are not available in print would be available to the student as electronic copies at the university courseware on its website.
Orientation and Matriculation
The next major activity after the registration process is the orientation and the matriculation program. The orientation is a programme designed to familiarise the new students to the study centre operations and the university by extension.
Most new students, on this day for the first time come across the university anthem and are made to learn the anthem. During the programme, the students listen to talks from all the arms of the study centre: Director, Counsellors, Registration, DMI, ICT, Accounts, library and others.
Available services are made open to the students and who as well as where they can turn to when they have issues are made known to them.
In NOUN the matriculation holds about a week after the orientation. The orientation holds simultaneously across all the study centres in the country. The new students take the matriculation oath after which they are accepted as students of NOUN.
In between the registration and orientation/matriculation facilitation sometimes would have commenced or when it is not possible, it commences after the matriculation exercise.
Facilitation is the period when students are made to have some face-to-face interaction with university appointed facilitators to help them in the process of learning or content digestion. Usually, where the centre is large and well equipped, facilitation takes place on site but where this is not possible, facilitation takes place at other places chosen for the exercise.
There are some rules that are in place guiding face-to-face facilitation and the most important of them is that facilitation of any particular course would take place if there is a minimum of 50 students registered for the course in the study centre.
The class can also be divided into two where there are more than 200 students. It is the duty of the study centre to make a workable timetable to guide the facilitation exercise and also to appoint staff that would be on ground to monitor the smooth running of the exercise.
The duration of the facilitation also has to do with the units of each course. A 2-unit course is allocated 8 hours facilitation; a 3-unit course is allocated 12 hours of facilitation and a 4-unit course gets 16 hours.
You need to note that there is a difference between a lecture and facilitation and so you cannot expect your facilitator to lecture you.
There is hardly any NOUN study centre that does not have at least 1 counsellor; there are some that have about 4 or 5 depending on the student population.
The good thing is that all these counsellors are trained, as they are all graduates in Guidance and Counselling, and some of them have Doctor of Philosophy.
They are thus equipped to counselling both academically and psychologically. If you have issues with your studies and other areas of life that may affect your output, you are advised to visit the counsellor’s office for a session.
Organisation of Field Work
Another academically important activity that goes on in the study centre simultaneously with the facilitation exercise is the organisation of all field related exercises for the semester.
This includes teaching practice and practicum for the undergraduate and graduate Education students, field trips for the Tourism students, seminars for Tourism, Sciences, Hotel and Catering, and the Business Administration students and Practicum for the Nursing students.
Apart from this, there are some students who are also involved in SIWES and these are also planned and carried out during the semester.
It is also important to know that students in the Sciences also go through their practical courses during this period.
In some study centres, there are physical libraries while some centres have elibraries and some centres have no library at all, either physical or electronic. Thus, the study centre is a place where the students of NOUN are expected to make use of the library.
Due to the nature of the university, the e-library is emphasized more and so most of the study centres do have e-libraries and also a dedicated librarian to assist the student in accessing the libraries that the university is subscribed to.
Also available in the study centre library are the project copies of the past students of the study centre that the current students can use as a guide as they embark on their own projects.
All examinations except the Tutor-Marked Assignments/Computer Marked Assignments holds at the study centres. To this end, most study centres are equipped with infrastructure to allow student write the examinations.
It has to be stated that where there are more students than facilities, study centres rent venues to hold the examinations. Two types of examinations are held every semester: the e-examinations which is taken by the 100 and 200 levels students and all general studies (GST) at all levels, including the postgraduate level.
Other papers from 300 to 800 levels are taken as pen-on-paper examinations. There are centres where students write e-examinations at rented venues and write pen-on-paper examinations at the centre or viceversa or where all examinations are written at rented venues or at the centres.
All the planning for the smooth running of the examinations is under the control of the Director and other staff of the centres.
Other Administrative Matters
There are other administrative matters that hold at the study centres. An example of such is disciplinary matters. For example, in the case of examination misconduct, immediately after examinations, students that were caught for one offence or the other are asked to face the examination misconduct panel at the study centre level.
At the end of this exercise, recommendations and evidences on each case is forwarded to the University Examination Misconduct panel that reviews and or ratifies the decisions of the study centre panel and then forward their recommendations to the University Senate for approval.
Directorate of Information Communication Technology
The Directorate of Information Communication Technology (ICT) plays a vital role in meeting the digital requirements and expectations of students. The DICT provides a wide range of information technology and communication facilities to support students throughout their course of study.
All university staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students have access to the services that are available throughout the day. There is at least 1 DICT staff in all study centres around the country.
Heavily populated centres have more than 1. For example, the Lagos Study Centre, that is most populated centre, currently has 9 DICT staff. The ICT officers are the central point of contact for staff and student seeking help, advice and support for all IT related services. The IT support staff can assist with the following:
Online registration issues (password, accounts, etc.)
Course and examination registration issues
Computing advice and information
E-examination administration and support
Support services for personal computers
Training for students and staff.
The DICT also ensures that computer laboratories are operational and accessible in all the study centres, so that students can have access to computing facilities and electronic examination.
Furthermore, the directorate provides asynchronous and synchronous communication tools such as emails, e-mail groups, online forums, webinars and web conferencing. This is to make the learning process very flexible, where students can learn anytime, anywhere and at their own pace.
Faculties and Departments
The very first truth that often seems buried in the open and distance learning institutions is that no matter the location of the study centre, all students belong to the departments and faculties. The first support service of the departments and faculties is response to students’ issues.
It is the departments and faculties that establishes the curriculum for each of the programme the students are registered for and the curriculum is made available for to each student at the registration point, clearly specifying the status of each course, that is, showing the courses that are core and those that are electives as well as the minimum number of units the students can register for each semester.
The role of the registry in support services is largely administrative and takes place even after the student has graduated from the university.
Issuance of Admission Letter
The Registrar of the university signs the provisional letter of admission issued to all the students at the point of their admission. Though the letter is automated, it comes directly from the Registry.
Without this letter of admission, no one can proceed to the registration point.
Issuance of Introductory Letters (Visa/Research)
Another support service the students receive from the Registry has to do with introductory letters.
Students sometimes, in the course of their research, may need to visit other institutions and libraries and may be requested to bring letters of introduction from their institution. When this is the case, the student would write to the Registrar through the Director of the study centre to request for the letter of introduction.
After the letter had been written and signed by the Deputy Registrar (Academics), it would be returned to the study centre for the student to collect. It is also important to know that sometimes, as part of their course of study or sometimes for leisure, students would want to travel abroad and embassies would request for letters of introduction form the university. The same procedure is followed for the issuance of such letters.
Issuance of Certificates
At the end of the student’s course of study, the certificate signifying the successful completion of their programme, is signed by the Vice Chancellor and the Registrar and distributed by the staff of the Registry to the deserving students.
The distribution of the certificates is usually done at the end of the convocation service at designated points.
Issuance of Transcripts
When students after graduation want to further their education in other universities, they would request for transcripts from the university and this would be sent again to the Registrar who would refer the request to the Deputy Registrar (Academics).
After the payment of the required fees, the Academic office would prepare the transcript and the Deputy Registrar (Academics) would sign it and the letter would be mailed to the requesting institution.
The widest range of support services take place in the study centres and it includes pre- and admission processes, registration, orientation, matriculation, facilitation, counselling, organization of field work, library services, examination and other administrative matters.
The Directorate of Information and Communication Technology supports registration and examination issues; Faculties and Departments determine courses to be offered across all levels as well as admission and graduation requirements.
The Registry also has a wide range of services like the issuance of introductory letters, certificates and transcripts.