Usman Alkali

  • Usman Alkali is from Nigeria and joined Oxford Brookes in September 2015. His thesis title is ‘Paradigm shift from resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy: the roles of University-Industry-Government Interaction in Nigeria’

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    A student friend of mine told me good stories about the quality of research at Oxford Brookes and I contacted another friend who happened to live in Oxford to seek his opinion. Both friends shared similar views which further encouraged my application. Following my enrolment, I saw the incredible support from my supervisory team and the Faculty members in equipping me with the necessary research skills that will help me throughout my PhD journey.

    What were you doing before?

    I was working with a government agency in Nigeria.   

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    The support and facilities provided have made it very easy for me to settle quickly into the research environment. It has also been much easier since the Oxford Brookes Business School moved from Wheatley to the Headington campus.

    Tell us about your research.

    Nigeria is the most populous African nation with an estimated population of 186 million people. Prior to the discovery of oil in 1956, agriculture was the mainstay of the economy; however, after the oil discovery, there was gradual neglect of agriculture and other sectors which hitherto made tremendous contributions to the economy. For the past two decades, the country has been operating a mono commodity-based economy with about 90% of revenues coming from the oil sector. To counter this over-dependence, Nigeria launched Vision 20:20 which is an articulation of a long-term intent to launch Nigeria onto a path of social and economic progress and fast-track the development of an economically prosperous Nigeria. My research seeks to advocate for a paradigm shift from a mono-sectoral dependence to a knowledge-based economy, exploring the roles of the interaction between universities-industries-government in Nigeria. The study aims to investigate the factors that influence the trilateral relations, the motivations for and the factors that impede the interaction, achieved through semi-structured interviews with study participants drawn from academic, industry and government institutions involved in technological development in Nigeria. The universities were selected based on the National Universities Commission’s ranking and regional distribution, as well as other factors such as years of establishment and experience. The firms were selected based on the level of engagement in knowledge-intensive commercial activities. The government agencies were selected based on their various roles in supporting, regulating, and participating in collaborative commercial ventures and innovative activities with the universities and industries. This research is supervised by Dr Sola Adesola (Director of Studies) and Professor Pritam Singh and is still ongoing with further work to be completed on data analysis, critical evaluation and contributions to knowledge.

    What do you enjoy about being a research student?

    What I enjoy most is the diversity of my fellow PhD students. I enjoy interacting with people from different nations, ethnic and religious backgrounds. I have learnt to live with people from other nations and to interact with them in many positive ways.

    My initial challenge was my difficulty in understanding the British accent. I have struggled to communicate with native English speakers because the speech is very fast and a little different to what I am used to. But I quickly paid more attention to improve that barrier, which helped me a lot in improving my communication skills.

    What do you think about the research training offered at Brookes?

    The research training has been very helpful and practical for my research. The first training I received was EndNote and searching for materials in the library catalogue. Prior to that, I had no idea how EndNote worked. I used to arrange my bibliographies manually, but after this and other training session I attended, I can confidently say that my research skills have improved tremendously.

    What are your future plans?

    My aim after completing my PhD is to return to my country and contribute to my nation, and also be a good ambassador for Oxford Brookes University.