Trajectory of brain-drain and quality of work-life amongst Nigeria’s university lecturers: academic staff union of universities (ASUU) incessant strike in retrospect

Olusegun Emmanuel Akinwale (Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)
Owolabi Lateef Kuye (Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)
Olayombo Elizabeth Akinwale (Department of History and Strategic Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)

International Trade, Politics and Development

ISSN: 2586-3932

Article publication date: 30 May 2023

Issue publication date: 6 September 2023

1894

Abstract

Purpose

Brain-drain insurgency has become pervasive amongst professionals and the last option for everyone in the country to realise a sustainable quality of work-life (QWL). All youths now in the country have perceived migrating to the international workspace as a noble idea. This study investigates the incidence of brain-drain and QWL amongst academics in Nigerian universities.

Design/methodology/approach

To sparkle a clearer understanding concerning factors preventing the QWL amongst Nigeria's lecturers, this study utilised a cross-sectional research design to survey the participants across all departments in federal institutions through an explanatory research approach. This study applied an array of adapted scales to evaluate members of academic staff track of what provoked the incidence of brain-drain amongst Nigerian lecturers and possible influence on their QWL. The study surveyed 431 members of academic staff in Nigerian universities to collect useful data and employed a structural equation model (SEM) to analyse the obtained data.

Findings

The outcome of this study highlights that there is a horrible condition of service amongst Nigerian lecturers, a poor compensation system, poor academic research funding and lack of autonomy are bane to the QWL experienced in Nigerian tertiary institutions today. This study indicates that poor staff development and inadequate university funding are part of the justification that provoked brain-drain insurgence, and allowed the government to lose their skilled and competent egg-heads in the university to other foreign nations of the world.

Originality/value

This study demonstrated that brain-drain has become part of Nigeria's national life given that all professionals are seeking better life where their skills, competence and energy would be valued. Brain-drain was not common until these days amongst academics and fewer studies were noted but this study showed a novel paradigm regarding the QWL and brain-drain trajectory.

Keywords

Citation

Akinwale, O.E., Kuye, O.L. and Akinwale, O.E. (2023), "Trajectory of brain-drain and quality of work-life amongst Nigeria’s university lecturers: academic staff union of universities (ASUU) incessant strike in retrospect", International Trade, Politics and Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 115-137. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITPD-10-2022-0021

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Olusegun Emmanuel Akinwale, Owolabi Lateef Kuye and Olayombo Elizabeth Akinwale

License

Published in International Trade, Politics and Development. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY4.0) license. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (forboth commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this license may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/ legalcode


1. Introduction

It has been evident that Nigerian lecturers have been experiencing poor quality of work-life (QWL) from time to time, which persists till this present time. Poor QWL amongst academic lecturers has become a recurring phenomenon amongst the lecturers who imparted knowledge to people across Nigerian universities. The implication of this is the poor quality of teaching, demotivation to work effectively and poor student performance which has led to incessant strike action of the academic staff union of universities (ASUU) from 1988 to date (Monogbe and Monogbe, 2019). The reason for the industrial action embarked upon by ASUU was majorly their QWL being placed in jeopardy. They embarked on strike to agitate for fair wages, university autonomy, challenges of brain-drain and sustainability of the university systems in 1988. This is what has been the primary reason for the industrial action called strike till this present strike was organised on 14th February, 2022. The poor QWL amongst Nigerian university lecturers has rendered the academic staff profession unattractive. It has eroded the dedication and productivity of Nigerian lecturers who are in this highly revered profession. This has made the majority of the lecturers migrate to another country where their respected skills and competence will be well appreciated and rewarded (Akinwale and George, 2022). QWL cannot be toyed with for everybody in any endeavour of life, especially for management whose goal is to accomplish optimum performance in a corporate environment.

Globally, QWL is important to employees everywhere, it exhibits an appealing work environment and centres on improving personnel's ability, knowledge and skills (Akinwale and George, 2020). Effective QWL offers a passionate attitude, gives employees enthusiasm and drive and provokes interpersonal relationships amongst employees (Akinwale and George, 2022). QWL is perceived as an umbrella under which individuals have a sense of fulfilment in their workplace and their commitment towards goal accomplishment. This spillover reflects in other life domains of employees if satisfaction is to be achieved in the workplace. Furthermore, it amplifies employees' dedicated cooperation with the management of the organisation in enhancing work performance and establishing a healthy workspace (Suna et al., 2022). QWL is multi-dimensional in nature, it is characterised by several issues of employee sufficient and fair compensation, job content, safety and security, condition of work, work engagement and promotion in the workplace setting (Barber et al., 2019). Effective QWL strategy fosters employees' ability to be actively involved and work efficiently, which assists in shaping the ecosystem, process and output across all levels of the organisation (Mehta, 2021). QWL is a procedure of job in a corporate environment which affords the employee various levels and hierarchies to fully and actively make an efficient contribution to transforming the work environment, methods and work performance (Inarda, 2022). QWL is a support system that focusses on a variety of factors that impact employee productivity (Yadav, 2022). It indicates the degree to which the work environment is conducive, as a favourable work atmosphere boosts positive personnel spirit and optimism and aids individual empowerment and dedication (Won and Chang, 2020). This is what the federal government managing Nigerian institutions are yet to provide for the academic staff in the contemporary academic industry. Consequently, the government has failed to provide deserved factors needed to boost and sustain the QWL amongst the lecturers. Unfortunately for the government, the academic personnel in Nigerian universities have migrated to other neighbouring institutions and countries to advance their QWL appropriately. Recently, pockets of Nigerian lecturers have moved to South Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe and the USA amongst other nations. This is the effect of brain-drain syndrome, which has activated poor QWL amongst Nigerian academic staff.

The implication of brain-drain to Nigerian academic education systems is poor and shortage of skilled and competent hands that will sustain Nigeria's educational systems. Therefore, this brain-drain phenomenon explains the mass movement of experts and professionals from emerging nations to developed nations for better employment engagement (Akinwale and George, 2022). Brain-drain describes a state whereby professionals are migrating from their nations to other nations in search of enduring QWL. In support of this notion, Ogunode (2020) decried the effect of brain-drain and declared that several academic lecturers and researchers are resigning from their appointments at Nigerian universities to other countries for better job offers and favourable work conditions. Brain-drain appears to be a core challenge bedevilling the Nigerian educational sector (Ogunode et al., 2021; Sunmonu et al., 2022). In the same line of discourse, former ASUU national president, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, established that Ethiopia attracted over 200 professors from Nigeria, while South Africa and other African countries have grabbed a large number of Nigerian professors (Aondofa, 2022). Several years ago, this same Ethiopia amasses the competence of 600 lecturers and professors from Nigeria (Amede et al., 2022). In another antecedent of the brain-drain effect, the former ambassador to Ethiopia, Akinsanya, said above 3,000 Nigerian skilled experts across all disciplines, have moved to Ethiopia and the majority of them were excelling in their preferred career domain (Amede et al., 2022).

The issue of brain-drain is endemic in Nigeria's ecosystem to such an extent that it has affected virtually all the facets of Nigeria's work environment. It has enabled Nigerian youths to coin a peculiar word for the concept of brain-drain these days, called the “Jaa-Paa theory. The meaning of this is that once you were able to embark on organised migration from Nigeria where your skill sets and competence are not valued and rewarded, never bother to come back again to your country anymore. This abnormal form of scientific exchange between nations, considered by one-way flow in favour of the highly developed nations has not only caused harm to Nigeria's educational institutions but also other fabric of Nigeria as a whole (Akinwale and George, 2022). Currently, now, this theory is pervasive amongst Nigerian youths, and every one of them is striving to run out of their country in search of sustainable QWL. Therefore, in light of this peculiarity in Nigeria where employees hardly earn the worth of their professional output, often time they owed them a large sum of their earned allowances, salaries and benefits. This study, therefore, investigates the possible adverse effect of brain-drain on the QWL amongst the academic staff in Nigerian universities.

2. Literature review

The concept of brain-drain and QWL has become a siamese-twin in the social environment. The latter reduces the adverse effect of the former if it is well managed by the management that is saddled with the responsibility of sustaining the QWL in the life of individuals at the workplace. The increasing mass exodus of employees from low and middle-income nations is a concern for policy-makers and organisational development strategists due to its negative effect on access to essential services in the country of origin (Okunade, 2019). Persistently, countries are losing their best and most skilled hands to developed nations due to the poor standard of living and poor compensation packages. Recently, Ogunbodede (2020) argued that Nigeria has encountered a massive movement of trained and skilled individuals to foreign nations. Adding the majority of them are learned individuals trained in Nigerian universities which are largely subsidised by the government. This idea of exporting human capital has provoked serious concerns regarding the attendant paucity of professionals in many of Nigeria's dwindling industries, especially the educational industry which has witnessed the exit of its best hands in multitudes in recent times (Consterdine, 2019).

The choice of Nigeria's continuous brain-drain behaviour is not difficult to diagnose. A severely cripplingly economy, poor infrastructure, insecurity, poor QWL, poor wages, salaries and compensation, poor work environment and high unemployment occurrence are some of the several justifications that Nigerians are bailing out themselves of the country for a better and enduring opportunity (Perpetua et al., 2019). And this behaviour seems not to come to an end soonest than envisaged. This issue is not restricted to only academics but also the information technology (IT) industry, manufacturing sectors and the health industry are sectors suffering from a drought of skilled professionals (Singh and Maini, 2021). The recent research of Popogbe and Adeosun (2022) exhibited that the reason for employees migrating to other nations is not unconnected to inadequate infrastructure, a conducive work environment and reasonable compensation packages. These are also core motivating drivers for the emigration of professional scientists and lecturers in Nigeria to the international labour workspace. Nigeria's public-funded academic environment suffers poor personnel, as several of Nigeria's competent lecturers often settle for better offers in foreign countries (Okafor and Chimereze, 2020). Ogunbodede (2020) shared in recent statistics that Nigeria has one of the poorest lecturer-to-student ratios in global universities' history, with worrisome figures as absurd as one lecturer to over 120 students in a classroom.

2.1 Theoretical framework

2.1.1 The change theory

The change theory is given prominence by Lewin (1947) and it has been adopted as a framework for contribution to the field of social sciences. The study prescribes that there exist two elements that impact a certain situation or phenomenon – forces (push element) and helping (pull elements) which strengthen the achievement of a particular goal. Change theory evaluates determining factors of brain-drain amongst individuals in work organisations. The theory analyses a behavioural intention which results in struggling between satisfaction and frustration in a social environment. It illustrates that individual involvement in a certain activity or course is contingent upon the agreement or disagreement between their needs and perceived pain or gain which inform their decision in any given situation.

Change theory clarifies strategies that propel people to move from their home country to other geographical locations and regions as a result of push and pull attributes. Force and helping factors are generic two sides of a coin which is described as a carrot and stick strategy in the behavioural management domain (Enderwick et al., 2011). Force (push) and helping (pull) are social determining factors that drive individual intention to migrate out of their original socio-cultural environment to an alien region. The theory has been popularised to drive organisational change for managers to plan, investigate and manage changes using structure in response to the internal or external environment and predict the pattern of change by individuals, products, technology and market trend. The application and relevance of this theory manifest in the brain-drain variables of this study. It suitably connects with the brain-drain construct of this study.

2.1.2 Structural functionalism theory

The origin of structural functionalism theory was from a French social scientist, Durkheim (1984), who is described as the foundation of modern reference to social structure. Durkheim (1984) argued that some portions of society are interdependent and that this symbiotic dependency places structure on the behaviour of institutions and the people therein. Structural functionalism is a theoretical viewpoint that emphasises functions performed in society by social structures like institutions, hierarchies and norms (Archibong and Antia, 2022). In this theory, a function is regarded as the degree to which a particular event stimulates or inhibits the improvement of a system (Schmitter and Lefkofridi, 2016). Structural functionalism considers society as a system that synergises with interrelated parts that co-exist based on a shared value. Each subsystem is conceived as useful and indispensable, contributing to the existence of the whole system (Potts et al., 2016). Therefore, if any of the subsystems or parts are deficient or malfunctions will affect others and the whole system. The theory conceives society as an autonomous system that depends on some basics for the accomplishment of directive and latent maintenance (Nwokocha, 2016). Therefore, a functioning society is one in which a larger size of citizens can overcome the difficulties that may preclude access to fundamental needs of life, especially the self-realisation of certain goals and a sense of worth (Amoah and Ayim, 2018). A favourable analogue is Nigeria's situation which is characterised by dysfunctional systems occasioned by inadequate infrastructure, high rate of unemployment, high incidence of lawlessness, rising inflationary trend, political instability and poor socio-economic indices amongst others are source of impediment for progress (Nwokocha and Ajaegbu, 2014). The essence of this is that Nigeria's socio-cultural realities invalidate and repudiate the structural functionalist's perspective of society as a unified summation, ordered and the contributory subset of a system (Ritzer, 2008). This reality of Nigeria's peculiar case is exhibited in the government's casual and unresponsive behaviour, lack of consensus at all levels of individual and group interactions, and demotivation to offer significant contributions to the improvement of the system as a whole. Hence, clear government's failure in economic and leadership, infrastructure and human capital as well as colossal poverty become part of citizens' difficult existence, and this expresses brain-drain, migration approach amongst all classes of Nigerians. This serves as a bailout mechanism for real or perceived inadequacies in Nigeria.

However, structural-functionalism theory resonates with the two constructs of this study. It speaks volumes about the inadequacies of the QWL experiences by the Nigerian institutions' lectures, as the part or subsystem failed to function effectively within the entire system. Government has exhibited many failures to enable the lecturers to function appropriately by not offering them basic things needed to perform at work, hence the sustainable QWL. At the same time, it connects to the brain-drain construct of this study. The consequence of the poor QWL experience by lecturers pushed them to foreign universities outside their domain called brain-drain. Therefore, structural functionalism theory is associated with the brain-drain syndrome of the study and the QWL of this study.

2.1.3 Spillover theory

The foundation of the spillover theory domain is situated in the seminal works of Renshaw (1976), Kanter (1977) and Pleck (1977). The spillover theory conceives that individual behaviour, attitude, emotions and skills in one area of life move into another domain of life for such person and vice versa, and it can exist in both positive and negative, horizontal and vertical spillover dimensions. The spillover theory is usually applicable to several areas of life in research, it is relevant and applicable to work–life balance, personnel satisfaction in the workplace, work efficiency amongst healthcare professionals as well as the QWL. The spillover idea to QWL argued that contentment or satisfaction in one aspect of life for an individual will influence contentment in another domain of life. An example is, that satisfaction with an individual's workplace and job may bring satisfaction in other areas of his life like social life, financial, health and family life domain (Lee et al., 2021; Steiner and Truxillo, 1989). In other words, generically, this means that contribution in one aspect of life will naturally reflect in other areas of the life of employees. This is what spillover means, it flows to other areas of the functional life sphere (Sirgy et al., 2001).

In the same line of thought, Verfuerth et al. (2019) also maintained that spillover is evident in human life when one environmentally enduring attitude extends to another, most time activated by a behavioural modified intervention. The import of situating spillover theory in the QWL concept of this study is basically about satisfaction in all domains of life amongst Nigerian lecturers. QWL does not only influence work satisfaction in the academic work environment but also experiencing delight in other spheres of life such as health, security and finances, personal life amongst others (Nilsson et al., 2017). The thrust of spillover theory is satisfaction or dissatisfaction within each of the academic staff life domains reflects their major superordinate domain, and this affects life satisfaction. Thus, the emphasis on the QWL moves beyond work satisfaction. Therefore, this has to do with the influence of the work environment on satisfaction with their job, satisfaction in non-work life areas, contentment with general life, happiness within and independent well-being (Sintov et al., 2017). This theory resonates with this study by suitably connecting to the QWL construct aspect of the study as demonstrated in the line of the discussion.

2.2 Conceptual review and hypotheses development

The following conceptualisations are envisaged from extant and current literature as the basis and instrumental for Nigerian lecturers' mass exodus to other countries, which are responsible for brain-drain syndrome.

2.2.1 Insufficient and unfair compensation package, and quality of work-life

A sufficient and fair compensation package has been the major driving force that impacts employees' productivity in the workplace. Fair compensation is a core aspect of motivational techniques that enable an employee to exhibit efficient performance in the corporate work environment. Marchand and Weber (2019) acknowledged that the management of sufficient and fair wages and salaries is notably essential to employees' satisfaction in their workplace. Compensation is the most important feature and the manifestation of the exchange interaction between the employer and employees (Podolsky et al., 2019). Within the entire field of human capital management, rarely is any issue germane, relevant and critical to an employee than compensation for his services and effort to the organisation. García and Han (2022) claimed that hardly any issue led to strained labour management relations or industrial action, picketing or work stoppages much more than insufficient and unfair compensation and reward-associated issues. This is currently witnessed today in Nigerian universities as management of compensation is a very fundamental concern to foster employee job satisfaction and QWL in organisations (Katete and Nyangarika, 2020). Also, Ehichoya and Ogunode’s (2020) study discovered that an insufficient and unfair reward system amongst employees has led to several moments of dissatisfaction and consequently a poor QWL. The study by Joshua et al. (2020) showed that insufficient and inequitable pay amongst university lecturers in The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Nigeria led to moonlighting effect. They all perceived a justification for a review of their compensation and also suggested that the government must involve academic staff in the decision-making process of their compensation and reward systems. In another environment, García and Weiss (2019) acknowledged that fair compensation stimulates US academic staff at higher institutions, preventing the turnover intention of teachers from moving to any neighbouring institution. In another study, Ajayi and Ogunode (2022) decried the insufficient and unfair compensation system that has been the foundation of strike action amongst Nigerian academic staff unions of universities embarked on every moment. This is worrisome to the extent that Monogbe and Monogbe (2019) validated that the Nigerian government is a place where employees hardly earn the worth of their professional output, often time they owed them a large sum of their earned salaries, allowances and benefits. It is this inequitable remuneration, wages and salaries and compensation package in its totality that caused dissatisfaction amongst academic staff in Nigeria's universities. This by extension, transfers to other areas of the lives of academic staff members in Nigeria. To this end, this study proposes that:

H1.

Insufficient, and unfair compensation negatively impacts members of the ASUU’s QWL in Nigeria.

2.2.2 Poor research funding and quality of work-life

Research in higher institutions of learning is another measure of quality in academics amongst lecturers. This research gulps high funds to accomplish, usually, it takes a minimum of six to nine months for an individual to conduct meaningful research and it involves resources such as funding and expertise amongst others. Poor research funding has been another source of concern for lecturers in developing countries like Nigeria (Adekoya, 2023). It has eaten deep into the QWL of members of academic staff in Nigeria. They are making effort to ensure they conduct veritable studies that will improve their community, society and economy at large, however, funds to effectively carry out these studies are lacking in greater measure. This always affects the working condition of lecturers. Members of academic staff in Nigerian tertiary institutions are saddled with three statutory responsibilities–teaching, research and community services. More emphasis and attention are devoted to the teaching ambit of tertiary institutions in Nigeria while minimum attention is given to research. This is connected to the poor funding allocation to research in the country. Former Nigerian University Commission (NUC) executive secretary, Prof. Okebukola in an interview granted to guardian correspondence, believed that Nigerian universities that serve as the nation's research hub, knowledge dissemination and creation are yet to live up to their full responsibilities in terms of research capacity building (Lawal, 2021). Unfortunately, research in Nigerian universities is not prioritised due to inadequate funding of tertiary institutions. Generally, Ladipo et al. (2022) lamented that funding for Nigerian universities in particular and research precisely is insufficient. This worrisome situation largely prevents members of academic staff from the ability to access research fund in Nigeria and this calls for a great concern which by extension affect their QWL.

The circumstance is such a terrible one in Nigeria that Igiri et al. (2021) in his research admitted that the large research conducted in Nigerian universities has been through self-funding by members of academic staff, graduate students and staff-in-training, and the bulk of it was from meagre salaries that are not enough for the lecturers. This in return adversely affected the QWL and the ability to be productive for lecturers. This is strengthened by the study of Appah et al. (2020) who currently discovered that research in Nigerian universities is financed by graduate students, grants from corporate institutions and donors, and members of academic staff who are poorly paid. This clearly illustrates the circumstances of how poorly research is being funded in Nigerian universities. The situation is similar in every University in the nation and the scenario has not changed substantially. It appears with this pitiable incidence that the Nigerian government has not made research in higher institutions of learning a priority by assigning adequate funds for research even learning in the nation's universities. According to Ukwoma and Onyebinama (2021), without sufficient funding from the government, scientists and members of academic staff cannot embark on significant research, and without quality research, the country may not likely make substantial progress both in terms of industrial and economic accomplishment. Ladipo et al. (2022) identify challenges in accessing research funds and the diminishing attitude of being dedicated to teaching in Nigerian universities owing to brain-drain as a major factor promoting the low interest in research by lecturers in recent times. Insufficient funds and research grants create a bottleneck for members of academic staff to conduct quality research that will advance the country (Lawal, 2021). In light of this argument, this study proposed a hypothesis here that,

H2.

Poor research funding adversely affects members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria.

2.2.3 Lack of autonomy and quality of work-life

Autonomy expresses independence and self-govern behaviour in the work environment. It was emphasised that when an employee is working and is not given the flexibility to work or operate, such an individual may likely experience dissatisfaction on the job. Therefore, the autonomy to operate in Nigerian universities effectively is another difficulty encountered by faculty members in Nigerian universities. The environment is too apolitical for the lecturers to work and this often affects their QWL (Amadi and Ekpoafia, 2018). In today's Nigerian ecosystem, wholesome academics are perceived as a challenge to the development of industry and commerce. Therefore, the conventional autonomy of Nigerian universities established on undiluted academic rules has been altered and restricted (Tolu-Kolawole, 2022). To ensure the university's autonomy, Azenabor (2022) argued that there must be a substantial transformation in government policies and reversal of prior unifying decrees and/or regulations. He stressed that the government must hands off the daily running of Nigerian universities, and visitor interference and government visitation panels should be abolished by the government. These concerns and agitations regarding university autonomy in Nigerian universities prevented sustainable QWL amongst Nigerian lecturers. Part of the university autonomy that can drive the QWL according to Azenabor (2022), is that government should allow the University to choose its vice-chancellor and members of the council without government interference. Sufficient university funding is required to secure the full university's autonomy. This will enable university to diversify its financial capital base and become more entrepreneurial in its management approach, the design and contents of its curriculum and the delivery pattern of its programmes. Nwaokugha (2021) in his recent study argued that a prevalent restructuring and modification mantra in the university which all stakeholders highly valued, in which a university can optimally accomplish its vision and mission is university autonomy. Ogundipe (2022) demonstrated that university autonomy is not given to members and the management of universities in Nigeria. Adding that autonomy in higher institutions of learning is important to executives of the tertiary institutions, whereby the management of the university is responsible for their academic community. It is a means of entrenching a democratic management style in tertiary institutions and adequately ensuring that each university allows unbridled access to be creative by its members of staff as well as students. Therefore, this study proposes a hypothesis that,

H3.

Lack of autonomy negatively influences members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria.

2.2.4 Poor staff development and quality of work-life

Staff development is a strategic function of human development in organisations, at the same time it resonates as part of the non-financial reward system which delights employees in the workplace. Staff development emphasises developing personnel competencies for daily work difficulties (Shonhe, 2020). Ogunode et al. (2021) asserted that inadequate academic staff development is another major concern that militates the QWL of lecturers in tertiary institutions. Lectures are not enabled to access funds that will assist them in developing themselves, at the same time, the government has no provision for the development of members of academic staff in Nigerian universities (Udoh and Atanda, 2022). The quality of a university's human capital is closely tied to the degree of training given to its academic staff and this is fundamental to its growth. While the generic quality of the university's academic staff is its output. In the same line of critical thought, Patrick and Okafor (2021), submitted that building the capacity of lectures is susceptible to improving the QWL amongst academic members. Development programmes boost lecturers' professional career life. Aside from obtaining academic and content skills, lecturers’ involvement in the programmes improves capacity-building efficiency in the University's environment (Mero-Jaffe and Altarac, 2020). Therefore, the participation of members of the academic staff in capacity-building programmes is relatively low in terms of seminars and conferences, workshops and information and communication technology training. Hence, this largely affects the QWL of lecturers due to its drawback in their work functioning in the academic environment. This made the study of Odusanya (2019) to recommend that lecturers must be offered enabling environment where they will be driven to be fully involved in staff development programmes that will stimulate and build their capacity. Awodiji et al. (2022) study established that poor performance amongst academic staff was noted because of inadequate staff development and this led to personnel demotivation, conflict, poor attitude to work and ultimately industrial action amongst university lecturers. Thus, this study postulates that,

H4.

Poor staff development adversely influences members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria.

2.2.5 Inadequate university funding and quality of work-life

Funding and financing are the lifeblood of any tertiary institution system across the globe. Funding is crucial for the efficient management of universities. Poor funding of universities prevents significant goal achievement and deters quality provision of academic excellence. It is terrible and disheartening to note that public universities are experiencing inadequate funding in Nigeria. In a recent study, Ogunode and Abubakar (2022) established that poor funding is one of the core challenges bedevilling the management of public universities in Nigeria and this has thwarted the sustainable QWL of the lecturers therein. Wahab (2022) claimed that the budgetary allocation for managing Nigeria's tertiary institutions is nothing to write home in terms of university programme implementation. The university needs sufficient funds for efficient goal accomplishment to thrive in the university environment. The yearly allocation of budget for managing universities in Nigeria is abysmally low (Eromosele, 2022). Over the years, the government has failed to strictly follow the recommendations on the allocation of funds and funding in general by an international body whose focus is to attain quality education for everybody in society and sustainable learning. It is this non-compliance of the government to adhere to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) 26% of the national budget recommended that is hindering the effective functioning of the educational system in the country (Odigwe and Owam, 2019). This is largely affecting Nigeria's educational sector, especially tertiary institutions in the country (Ogunode and Abubakar, 2020). Inadequate University funding is responsible for the poor quality of education and brain-drain syndrome witnessed today amongst citizens (Saidykhan and Ceesay, 2020). The reasons for poor funding of Nigerian universities include low political will amongst Nigerian leaders, corruption, leadership ineptitudes and poor financial planning amongst others. The implications of this inadequate University funding are poor QWL, paucity of academic staff, poor quality of education, brain-drain and incessant industrial strike action (Ogunode et al., 2021). In light of this discourse, this study postulates a hypothesis that,

H5.

Inadequate university funding adversely influences members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria.

3. Research methods

3.1 Research design

This study utilised a cross-sectional design through an explanatory research approach to survey all the participants of this study. The rationale for choosing this research design is that explanatory research design evaluates the causes and reasons for a phenomenon, and offers evidence to buttress or negate an explanation or prediction (Saunders et al., 2019). It is employed to establish and report the relationships amongst various aspects of the variables of interest. The emphasis in explanatory research design is to appraise the trajectory of brain-drain and poor QWL to offer a meaningful explanation of the dimensions of these variables.

3.2 Population and sample size

The population otherwise called the study setting for this study is the university environment, all federal universities in Nigeria. The physical, cultural and social site for this study is an engagement amongst academic staff of universities in Nigeria. Presently Nigeria has 49 federal universities in the country and all the government federal universities are on strike. Thus, this study examined all the federal universities. Hence, obtaining the accurate number of the academic staff in all 49 universities may be a daunting effort, some lecturers have resigned from their appointment, and some are not feasible within the academic environment. Therefore, this study considered the population infinite population. To determine the sample size for this study, the study follows the formula of Westland (2010) and Soper (2022), a-prior sample size determination for the structural equation model (SEM). This helps in determining the appropriate sample size with improved precision level and the error term. Thus, the computation of the sample size is done through Soper's online analysis. Hence, the computations taking the number of observed variables in this study, and the number of latent variables along the path of a probability level of 0.05 with a desired statistical power level of 0.5. Therefore, the sample size is 570. Thus, the total sample size for the study is 570 academic staff across federal universities in Nigeria. 570 questionnaires were distributed, 431 were collected and 139 were deleted due to mutilation and double responses.

3.3 Samples and procedures

A simple random probability sampling strategy is adopted for the study to consciously select the participants for the study. The choice of using a simple random sampling technique is to avoid the biased tendency of the researcher which may distort the result and outcome of the study if is not prevented (Creswell and Guetterman, 2019). Also, the technique offers each member of the academic staff in the universities an equal opportunity of being chosen. Furthermore, the sampling technique allows the study to apply the outcome to the entire population (Saundera et. al., 2019).

3.4 Measures

A battery of measures for evaluating dimensions of lecturers' brain-drain and QWL of academic staff in Nigerian universities was adapted for this study.

3.4.1 Insufficient and unfair compensation

The insufficient and unfair compensation package scale adapted was from the study of Chen et al. (2006) who identified six dimensions to evaluate lecturers' satisfaction described as organisation vision, respect, results in feedback and motivation, management systems, pay and benefits and work environment. This study modified and adapted two of the dimensions, pay and benefits, and work environment to fit the study accordingly. It was measured on a five-point Likert rating scale.

3.4.2 Poor research funding/university autonomy/university funding/poor staff development

The measurement scales used to appraise poor research funding, poor staff development, university autonomy, as well as inadequate university funding were adapted from Oshagbemi's (1997) University professors' job satisfaction profiles scale. The scale has eight dimensions but this study utilised only research funding, funding teaching, university autonomy promotion and co-workers. The items were six, six, six and five, respectively, on a-five point Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

3.4.3 Quality of work-life

This study follows the logic of Watson's (1973) study, modified and collapsed four (adequate and fair compensation, working conditions, opportunity for continued growth and security and social relevance in the work-life) of his eight dimensions to fit university lecturers' QWL. To establish the degree of satisfaction with QWL of lecturers in Nigerian universities, a Likert scale (1–5) adapted from the model established in (Timossi et al., 2009) was established in their research for evaluation of the QWL index in firms. The value of the average response for each dimension was verified by the weighted average of the responses received to the item under the QWL constructs.

3.5 Data analysis strategy

The study utilised the SEM to evaluate variables of interest in this study. The choice of this strategy is that SEM is a set of statistical techniques employed to assess and analyse the relationships of observed and latent variables. It aids to measure the linear causal relationships amongst the variables. One major reason is that in research that contains many variables, the appropriate analytic strategy is SEM. It allows the observers to establish and reliably evaluate hypothetical associations amongst theoretical constructs and those that exist between the constructs and their observed indicators (Deng et al., 2018).

4. Results and data analysis

Table 1 illustrates the lecturers' demographic distribution exhibiting sex distribution of members of ASUU, the age distribution demonstrated and educational background of the university lecturers and their work experience within the institutions and the academic industry. Position and rank of members of academic staff union from assistant lecturer to professorship rank and its corresponding compensation, wages and salaries received every month. Most importantly, the wages and salary of the respondents justify the agitation of the academic members of Nigerian universities when compared to other peers across the world.

4.1 Reliability and validity measures

The reliability and validity measurements were taken using the convergent validity and composite reliability approach as depicted from Table 2. The measures were undertaken following the suggestions of Hair et al. (2019), a composite reliability of 0.70 is recommended while Fornell and Larcker (1981) recommended a 0.60 value or more for composite reliability (CR). A value higher than 0.5 is recommended for average variance extracted (AVE) following the suggestion of Fornell and Larcker (1981) which is denoted in Table 3. All the factors loadings of the dimensions of brain-drain and QWL constructs are robust values and this confirms that the model is optimally fit. Hence, the CR and convergent validity for the trajectory of brain-drain and QWL dimensions have been accomplished.

4.2 Common method variance-bias

Common method bias (CMB) is a possible serious challenge to bias in both scientific and social research, particularly when a one-informative study is involved. Therefore, it is utilised to prevent CMB or variance via processes of integrating control measures by employing statistical solutions following the suggestion of Podsakoff et al. (2012) as prescribed. Thus, solutions were introduced by ensuring the respondents' anonymity, reverse coding some items and preventing double-barrelled items, and ambiguous and abstract question items were considered. The study prevented common method variance (CMV) or bias through an unmeasured latent approach factor strategy, the study initiated a first-order construct called method factor following the recommendation of Fuller et al. (2016). This method factor does not possess scale items of its own. Instead, the scale items of this factor are those connected with the constructs under investigation which are likely influenced by CMV (Rodríguez-Ardura and Meseguer-Artola, 2020). The study inputs all the items on the constructs and then appraises the relevance of the structural indicators in the model, both with and without the method factor. Thus, the method eliminates all variance between the common method factor and the constructs, including variance that is not created by CMV (Spector et al., 2019). This approach ensured that common method bias or variance did not occur or cause a challenge to the outcome of this study.

Table 4 illustrates a fit index of the instrument and shows that all the parameters are adequately fit for this study. They are all suitable following the suggestions and recommendations of Hair and Alamer (2022) and Hu and Bentler (1999) as prescribed in the literature. Thus, the model is acceptable given the results of varying goodness of fit indices as indicated in Table 4.

5. Discussion of findings

The analysis of this study shows a highly significant direction in terms of how lecturers' QWL suffered in Nigerian universities. As presented in Figure 1, from the conceptual model outcome, and Table 5, Hypothesis one of the study depicts that compensation packages offered to members of academic staff in Nigerian universities are not sufficient and mostly it is unjust compared to other professions in the country and other related significant members of academic staff globally. H1 shows that (b = 0.57, p = 0.001), which supports that an insufficient and unfair compensation system has bedevilled and affected Nigeria's lecturers and this has given them an impetus to migrate from the country to search for a better opportunities. Truly, the study supports that insufficient, and unfair compensation adversely impacts members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria. This result has found a similar expression with the study of Ehichoya and Ogunode (2020) whose study discovered that an insufficient and unfair reward system amongst employees has led to several moments of dissatisfaction and consequently a poor QWL. Also, it takes a similar position with the study of Joshua et al. (2020) whose outcome illustrated that insufficient and inequitable pay amongst university lecturers in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in Nigeria led to moonlighting effect and brain-drain insurgency.

The second aspect of this study outcome is that poor academic research funding experienced by Nigerian lecturers is another worrisome paradigm that sent the majority of the lecturers outside the country seeking where their skills and competence would be suitably rewarded. The outcome of this study indicates that lecturers are experiencing poor research funding in the course of their job which is denoted as H2 and it shows that (b = 0.43, p = 0.000). The major issue is that without lecturers conducting research, publishing their studies and amassing a large number of publications, their promotion will always be in jeopardy. This is what they encounter in the discharge of their duty and largely affected their QWL. The result portends that the government has not been given due attention to academic research funding in Nigeria's university systems. Therefore, the study affirms that poor research funding adversely affects members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria. This outcome takes a symmetrical position with the study of Ukwoma and Onyebinama (2021), whose finding illustrates that without sufficient funding from the government, scientists and members of academic staff cannot embark on significant research and without quality research, the country may not likely make substantial progress both in terms of industrial and economic progress.

The third significant outcome of this research is the lack of autonomous power to operate University systems by academic staff members. H3 shows that (b = 0.62, p = 0.002), which indicates that lecturers and academic staff are not allowed to govern the tertiary institutions using their intellectual capacity to favourably operate the system. The introduction of a federal government visiting panel and visitors to rule the affairs of Nigerian universities is a common source of challenge to all the lecturers in Nigeria. This has ever affected lecturers' QWL and their ability to deliver within the four walls of the classroom effectively. This study confirms that lack of autonomy negatively influences members of the ASUU’s QWL in Nigeria. The lack of independence and sovereignty amongst Nigeria's lecturers has led many of them to resign from their appointments at Nigerian universities. This result is akin to the current study of Ogundipe (2022) whose research demonstrated that university autonomy is not given to members and the management of universities in Nigeria. The study further elaborates that autonomy in higher institutions of learning is important to executives of tertiary institutions, whereby the management of the university is responsible for their academic community. It is a means of entrenching a democratic management style in tertiary institutions and adequately ensuring that each university allows unbridled access to be creative by its members of staff as well as students.

The fourth hypothesis is poor staff development and QWL experienced in the course of discharging their duties. H4 shows that (b = 0.31, p = 0.001), this indicates government are not concerned about academic staff members' development when it comes to funding seminars, symposia, conferences and training amongst other vital developmental tools that they are required to effectively become productive. Staff development that required travelling to conferences outside the country to learn new concepts in research and interact with their foreign counterparts, sharing ideas that will elevate the society and economy is not a government priority. This has led to industrial strikes several times, yet lecturers are struggling to resume classrooms due to all the challenges faced, especially poor salary structure. The study discovered that these amongst other factors have pushed Nigerian lecturers to international universities where their hard-earned skills and competence will be valued. Hence, the study supports that poor staff development adversely influences members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria. This result is similar to the studies of Udoh and Atanda (2022) and Ogunode et al. (2021) whose research confirmed that inadequate academic staff development is another major concern that militates against the QWL of lecturers in tertiary institutions. Lectures are not enabled to access funds that will assist them in developing themselves, at the same time, the government has no provision for the development of members of academic staff in Nigerian universities. Also, the study of Awodiji et al. (2022) established the same opinion that poor performance amongst academic staff was noted because of inadequate staff development and this led to personnel demotivation, conflict, poor attitude to work and ultimately industrial action amongst university lecturers.

Finally, the fifth hypothesis (H5: b = 0.35, p = 0.001) result confirmed that inadequate university funding portends the danger of the collapse of education in Nigeria. The outcome of the study indicates that the government has shown a lackadaisical attitude towards the funding of education in Nigeria. The study provoked that this is another rationale that the majority of the citizens who can afford to send their wards and children overseas to go and study due to dilapidated facilities and lack of funding the Nigerian universities by the government. The study discovered that the Nigerian government failed to comply with UNESCO's annual budgetary allocation recommendations for education in Nigeria and this is the bane of Nigerian universities progress. Poor university funding has largely affected the QWL amongst lecturers in Nigeria and a large number of them have left in search of improved QWL in the global labour market. Indeed, this study affirmed that inadequate university funding adversely influences members of the ASUU's QWL in Nigeria. The result of this finding maintains an even position with the recent studies of Wahab (2022) and Ogunode and Abubakar (2022) whose research established that poor funding is one of the core challenges facing the management of public universities in Nigeria and it has thwarted the sustainable QWL of the lecturers in the country.

6. Conclusion and recommendations

Brain-drain otherwise called migration is pervasive in the human race, but the surge in which it snowballs these days is uncontrollable. It has become a recurring decimal amongst old and young ones in Nigeria. It has been displayed across all industries of our national life, and the reason is not far-fetched. The common justification is that they all desired and needed sustainable QWL and a better life away from discomfort zones. The poor QWL experience always provokes industrial down-tooling amongst members of academic staff in Nigeria's universities. This study concludes that the government must take proactive steps towards preventing the loss of talented Nigerians to other nations of the world. The accidental outcome of this brain-drain insurgence sees Nigeria spending a colossal amount of money training its skilled workforce only to throw them away to other regions of the world as a result of negligence and unfavourable apolitical behaviour tendency. This study makes certain recommendations if the government wanted to achieve a productive and vibrant economy in its national systems:

  1. Government should strictly adhere to the recommendations of UNESCO's 20–25% budgetary allocation of her national budget to educational systems in developing countries like Nigeria. It will enable the government to adequately finance and fund Nigerian universities and education effortlessly.

  2. Government should ensure wages and salaries of Nigerian lecturers are reviewed triennially, every three years. This will not only prevent members of academic staff from embarking on unending industrial strike action but also will make the industry attractive to other people to join the academic environment. Therefore, it will deter brain-drain insurgency amongst academic staff members in the country.

  3. Government should stop exhibiting negative political behaviour when it comes to funding Nigerian universities, and entrench good governance regarding necessary attention to the management of universities.

  4. Government should provide members of academic staff with autonomy, self-determination and independence to manage the affairs of Nigerian universities. This is already enacted in the University Autonomy Act by the National Assembly. Therefore, the government should allow academics to exercise their freedom as stipulated by the laws and regulations of the country.

  5. Government should maintain lecturers' both cognitive and social development by financing seminars, research, symposia and conferences amongst academic staff in Nigeria. This will strengthen members' capacity building and prevent the pervasive brain-drain syndrome amongst Nigerian lecturers.

  6. Government should provide access to research grants to all members of academic staff in Nigerian universities. This will encourage lecturers to conduct research with intention of contributing to the body of knowledge and proffering solutions to Nigerian societal challenges through evidence-based research. In the same way, it will accelerate the promotions of the lecturers since they are being accessed through a large number of publications credited to their names.

7. Practical implication

The study has offered members of academic staff an insight into how their QWL will be sustained in Nigerian universities. Practically, the study has resolved the issue of capacity building amongst academics and enabled the government to entrench productive behaviour amongst the academic staff members in Nigerian universities. It will abate the preposterous neglect of the government towards academic staff members in Nigeria's higher institutions of learning. The study will make the profession to be attractive to all and sundry, even appealing to foreign and visiting lecturers from all works of life to come and engage in Nigeria's academic environment going forward.

8. Theoretical implication

The brain-drain effect and QWL have been popularised in the extant literature with notable revolution. This study has made several theoretical contributions to both previous and existing literature on migration otherwise called brain-drain. In this study, structural functionalism theory was underpinning the theoretical posture of this study. It was evaluated in-depth to fill the societal inadequacies and government failure to function and provide succour for the populace. It prescribes a functioning society as one in which a greater portion of citizens can overcome the difficulties that may preclude access to fundamental needs of life, especially the self-realisation of certain goals and a sense of worth. This theory resonates with the study, it emphasises the deficiencies in the QWL encountered by the academics being part of subsystem ineptitudes to function efficiently within the entire system. The theory shows that the poor QWL faced by lecturers pushed them away to international universities outside their region as a result of systems that are not functioning the way they ought to.

Figures

Conceptual model result

Figure 1

Conceptual model result

Participants' demographic distribution

Employee profileFrequencyPercentage (100%) n = 431
Gender
Male25058.0
Female18142.0
Age
21–25 years8519.7
26–30 years10223.6
31–35 years10925.3
36–40 years8118.8
46 years and above5412.6
Education
Bachelors9522.0
Master’s degree16438.1
PhD17239.9
Work experience
1–10 Years12529.0
10–20 years14332.2
20–30 years13932.3
30 years above245.6
Position and rank
Assistant lecturer7216.7
Lecturer II9622.3
Lecturer I8018.6
Senior lecturer8018.6
Associate professor5412.5
Professor4911.4
Lecturer wages and salary (monthly in naira, dollar official rate = 450)
119,000–130,0007216.7
129,000–155,0009622.3
140,000–170,0008018.6
231,000–250,0008018.6
277,000–345,0005412.5
332,000–350,0004911.4

Source(s): Field Survey, 2023

Reliability and validity of trajectory of brain-drain measurement

Construct

measurement items

β

α

CR

AVE

Insufficient and unfair compensation package

0.75

0.93

0.71

IUCP1: Provision of unfair promotion system

0.83

IUCP2: An unclear reward and support system

0.89

IUCP3: Provision of a good pension scheme

0.87

IUCP4:Provision of inadequate pay

0.85

IUCP5: Non-provision of benefits

0.67

IUCP6: My salary as an academic staff is not sufficient

0.81

Poor academic research funding

0.80

0.94

0.73

PARF1: Recognition of achievements in teaching and research

0.83

PARF2: Little or no support for research funding

0.79

PARF3: Management of education paid little or no attention to research funding

0.87

PARF4: Achievement in teaching and research were encouraged

0.85

PARF5: Funding of educational facilities and infrastructural development is low

0.88

PARF6: Poor support for improvement in educational amenities

0.87

No autonomy

0.78

0.92

0.69

NA1:Participation in university's major policy decisions are discouraged

0.83

NA2: Daily administration of the university is closely monitored and controlled

0.89

NA3: Visitors' interference and visitation panel are a hindrance to University autonomy

0.89

NA4: The choice of university leadership by the tertiary institution is discouraged

0.84

NA5: Universities are not allowed to make independent decisions

0.79

NA6: Universities are not empowered to set strategic tasks and establish institutional objectives and goals

0.70

Poor staff development

0.75

0.91

0.66

PSD1: Provision of teaching aids and supports facilities are poor

0.87

PSD2: Management of universities does not promote staff development

0.89

PSD3: Government paid lip service to the development of academic staff

0.73

PSD4: I use my fund to attend conferences and seminars for personal development

0.78

PSD5: Poor staff development reduced the quality of my teaching

0.79

Inadequate university funding

0.86

0.90

0.66

IUF1:Non-provision of good management systems

0.76

IUF2: Cooperation and funding of university systems are not enabled

0.79

IUF3:Corruption is the bane of university funding in the country

0.89

IUF4:University funding is routed via political path

0.88

IUF5: Government does not adequately plan to fund University systems

0.73

Quality of work-life (QWL)

0.82

0.92

0.67

QWL1:Work brings me worries and annoyance

0.86

QWL2: I do not enjoy being a lecturer

0.79

QWL3: My work negatively influences my family life

0.89

QWL4: My wages and salaries are not adequate

0.78

QWL5: Provisions of late earn allowances and promotions

0.74

QWL6: I have no or little access to professional career development

0.83

Note(s): β = Factor Loadings; α = Cronbach alpha; CR = composite reliability; AVE = average. Variance extracted

Source(s): Field Survey, 2023

Intercorrelation item coefficients amongst variables

ConstructsIUCPPARFNAPSDIUFQWL
IUCP0.71
PARF0.73**0.73
NA0.75**0.68**0.69
PSD0.62*0.62**0.71**0.66
IUF0.69**0.67**0.69**0.71*0.66
QWL0.65**0.77*0.78**0.66**0.70**0.67
Mean3.63.73.53.54.24.9
SD0.60.70.60.70.80.7

Note(s): **p < 0.05, *p < 0.01 Insufficient and Unfair Compensation Package = IUCP; Poor Academic Research Funding = PARF; No Autonomy = NA; Poor Staff Development = PSD; Inadequate University Funding = IUFW; Quality of Worklife = QWL; Standard Deviation = SD. Average Variance Extracted (AVE) are in bold diagonal form, AVE for individual construct is higher than the corresponding inter-correlation construct square, indicating discriminant validity is achieved

Source(s): Authors' Compilation, 2023

Measurement model fit indices–confirmation factor analysis (CFA)

Fit indicesRecommended valueValue in the modelReferences
χ2/df<52.234Bentler and Dudgeon (1996)
RMSEA<0.080.045Hu and Bentler (1999)
CFI>0.900.952Bentler and Dudgeon (1996)
TLI>0.900.935Hair and Alamer (2022)
NFI>0.900.922Hair et al. (2021)
IFI>0.900.931Hair and Alamer (2022)
SRMR<0.080.031Pituch and Stevens (2016)

Note(s): χ2/df = Chisquare mean difference; RMSEA = Root Mean Squared Error of Approximation; CFI = Comparative Fit Index; TLI = Tucker Lewis Index; NFI = Normed Fit Index; IFI = Increamental Fit Index; SRMR = Standard Root Mean Squared Residual

Source(s): Authors' Compilation, 2023

Structural equation model results (SEM)

Hypotheses path analysisEstimatesSEP-valueAcceptance/Decision
H1: IUCP → QWL0.5740.0420.001Accepted/Significant
H2: PARF → QWL0.4370.0150.000Accepted/Significant
H3: NA → QWL0.6210.0230.002Accepted/Significant
H4: PSD →QWL0.3150.0190.001Accepted/Significant
H5: IUF →QWL0.3520.0120.001Accepted/Significant

Note(s): P-value = 0.05; Insufficient and Unfair Compensation Package = IUCP; Poor Academic Research Funding = PARF; No Autonomy = NA; Poor Staff Development = PSD; Inadequate University Funding = IUFW; Quality of Work-life = QWL

Source(s): Authors' Compilation, 2023

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Further reading

Gray, B.L. (2017), “Despite these many challenges: the textual construction of autonomy of a corporatized South African University”, Education as Change, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 1-21.

Acknowledgements

There is no grant/funding for this study other than self funding by the authors.

Corresponding author

Olusegun Emmanuel Akinwale can be contacted at: akinwaleolusegun@yahoo.com; olusegun.akinwale@live.unilag.edu.ng

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