Background to ARCIS
ARCIS began operations in November 1990 at Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan, as the first tertiary-level educational institution in West Africa mandated to undertake research and consultancy services, and offer higher degree and continuing education training in information science. Information science is a multidisciplinary field that provides the required synergy among the various and more specialized disciplines and fields collectively described as the information sciences, and including information management, information systems, information technology, computer science, telecommunications, library science, records management, communication and media arts, etc.
The idea of a school of information science for English-speaking African countries was conceived by UNESCO in 1973, revived at Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in 1980, and successfully sold to the meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Universities, held in Hong Kong, in March 1981. In January 1983, a four-man Team of Experts visited many African universities in order to recommend to UNESCO and IDRC the best location for the proposed school. The outcome of this mission was the recommendation to establish two such schools, one at the University of Ibadan for the West African Sub-Region and the other at Addis Ababa University for East and Southern Africa. The one proposed for the University of Ibadan was named Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS). Between October and November, 1984, a Curriculum Design Experts Group met at the University of Ibadan to fashion a curriculum for ARCIS.
ARCIS was established about the same time as many other regional centres of excellence in Africa, including the School of Information Science in Africa (SISA, University of Addis Ababa), the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS, University of Ghana), the African Centre for Engineering Design and Manufacture (ARCEDEM, Ibadan), and the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI, Tanzania), etc. Among other objectives, these regional institutions were to provide strategic platforms for pooling and sharing scarce African training and research expertise in their different domains. Accordingly, although the idea of a regional centre of excellence in information science was originally sponsored by international agencies, both Nigeria and the University of Ibadan are convinced and highly supportive of the strategic role ARCIS at the University of Ibadan for the benefit of the University, Nigeria, and West African countries.
To be a global frontline centre of excellence for human resource development, research, and service delivery in information science and technology.
ARCIS addresses, simultaneously, a series of African development problems that have demonstrable information services components, with a view to providing both short- and long-term solutions to them. More specifically, ARCIS
- trains and retrains high-level personnel for African organizations and countries in information science, essentially through seminars, workshops and higher degree programmes. The graduates from the programmes are expected to become leaders in the practice of information science, as well as trainers of information services personnel at lower-levels;
- engages in problem-resolution research into all aspects of information services in African countries;
- serves as a reservoir of consultants in the information sciences to African governments and institutions in the public and private sectors;
- provides expertise in the establishment, updating and application of appropriate standards for the construction, maintenance and effective utilization of digital content and databanks in Africa as a whole, and ECOWAS Member States in particular.
- inculcates the spirit of innovation, quality and service in all its staff in regard to the development of information services components of Research and Development (R&D) programmes in Africa.
ARCIS at the University of Ibadan
The Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS) is located at No. 6, Benue Road, adjacent to the premises of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ibadan. The University of Ibadan, Nigeria's first and only university until 1960, was founded in 1948 as a College of the University of London. Over the years, the University has been playing a major role as the premier university of Nigeria in manpower development, especially in postgraduate training.
The University now comprises the College of Medicine; the Faculties of Arts, Science, Agriculture and Forestry, the Social Sciences, Education, Veterinary Medicine, Technology, and Law; and the Postgraduate School, which has the status of a Faculty.
The University is responding vigorously to the growing demand for higher degree graduates to meet the staffing requirements in other Nigerian universities and in other sectors of the economy. A distinct feature of postgraduate training at the University has been the introduction of professional programmes. The Master of Information Science programme, offered by ARCIS, is one of such programmes. The programme has a dual classification as both academic and professional. Accordingly, the programme is designed to produce information professionals who can both work in information industry occupations, as well as provide scholarly preparation for graduates to pursue doctoral studies.
Status and Administrative Structure
ARCIS is an institute in the University of Ibadan. According to its enabling statute, the administrative and academic head of ARCIS is designated Director, and appointed by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.
There is Board of ARCIS, chaired by the Vice Chancellor, and having other members drawn from the central University administration and cognate faculties of the university. As the policy-making organ, the Board of ARCIS ensures that the programmes of the centre align with those of the university and various other stakeholder organizations in Nigeria and in other West African countries.
There is also the Academic Board of ARCIS, which is chaired by the Director. The Academic Board of ARCIS is responsible for presenting the academic programmes of ARCIS through the Postgraduate School to the Senate of the University. Its membership comprises the senior academic staff of ARCIS and other members from within and outside the University of Ibadan, as approved from time to time by the Senate.
The International Consultative Committee on ARCIS is an international policy-making organ which brings together representatives of all English-speaking West African countries, as well as international and regional agencies that may be requested to contribute students, staff, funds, materials and goodwill to the success of ARCIS programmes in the West African sub-region. The Committee is expected to meet periodically to review the service and non-degree programmes of ARCIS, advise on how best African governments and public agencies can benefit from ARCIS programmes and make regular reports, through the Vice-Chancellor, to the Council of the University of Ibadan.
ARCIS has its main building and adjacent classrooms on the prominent Benue Road on the university campus, along which road are the Faculties of Arts, Education. The main building houses the library, information and communication technology (ICT) laboratories, seminar and demonstration rooms, and general administrative and staff offices. The construction of a new building complex is being proposed, for which assistance is solicited from donors and philanthropists.
The staff and students of ARCIS, as well as Visiting Scholars, are also entitled to the use of other university facilities such as the central library, health centre, central computing facilities, sports and recreational facilities, among others. Foreign students are given priority in the provision of accommodation on the university campus.
The Programmes of ARCIS comprise four complementary components as follows: