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ICT and Student Unionism (A Case Study of the University of Ilorin Student Union)


This study investigated the influence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on student union activities within the University of Ilorin, Nigeria. Employing a quantitative survey research design, data were gathered from 120 respondents using a structured questionnaire. The collected data were then analyzed utilizing SPSS27, with the t-test serving as the statistical tool to test the formulated hypotheses. The findings of the study reveal a significant enhancement in the effectiveness of student union electoral processes attributed to the integration of ICT. With the utilization of digital voting systems, there was a notable increase in efficiency and accuracy, leading to a reduction in the incidence of electoral malpractices. Furthermore, the study indicates that the introduction of ICT has positively impacted student participation in union elections. Through the ease of access and convenience provided by online voting platforms, more students were motivated to engage in the electoral process, thus fostering a more inclusive and representative student governance system. However, amidst these advancements, the study also uncovered several challenges associated with ICT adoption in student union activities. Limited internet access emerged as a significant hurdle, particularly during online voting processes. Technical issues such as system downtimes and authentication failures were also identified, posing barriers to seamless engagement. Moreover, the study highlights the need for continuous training and awareness programs to enhance students’ familiarity and proficiency with the ICT tools utilized in student union activities. In conclusion, the study underscores the transformative potential of ICT in reshaping student governance dynamics within the university setting. By leveraging digital platforms and innovative technologies, student unions can streamline processes, promote transparency, and amplify student voices in decision-making processes. However, to fully harness the benefits of ICT, concerted efforts are required to address existing challenges and bridge the digital divide among students. Strengthening ICT infrastructure, implementing robust cybersecurity measures, and providing ongoing technical support are imperative steps towards ensuring the sustainable integration of ICT in student union activities. Based on the findings, several recommendations are proposed. These include investing in infrastructure upgrades to improve internet connectivity on campus, conducting regular maintenance and updates of ICT systems, and establishing mechanisms for feedback and continuous improvement. Additionally, capacity-building initiatives should be prioritized to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively utilize ICT tools for student governance purposes. Overall, the study contributes valuable insights to the discourse on ICT adoption in student union activities, offering practical recommendations for fostering a more inclusive and participatory student governance environment.




Background to the Study

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become an integral part of various sectors, including education and governance. At the University of Ilorin, the Student Union has adopted ICT to improve its electoral processes and facilitate communication with the student body and university management. This adoption aims to enhance transparency, efficiency, and student engagement in union activities.

The adoption of ICT in the electoral processes of the University of Ilorin Student Union has significantly transformed the way elections are conducted. By leveraging digital platforms, the Student Union can ensure that the electoral process is more transparent and accessible to all students. Digital voting systems reduce the risk of electoral fraud and ensure that every vote is accurately counted, leading to more credible election outcomes (Abolade & Olalere, 2021).

Moreover, ICT tools such as online forums, social media, and instant messaging apps have enhanced the communication between the Student Union and the student body. These platforms allow for real-time updates and feedback, enabling the Student Union to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of students. This two-way communication channel not only improves transparency but also fosters a sense of community and inclusivity among students (Williams, 2023).

In addition to improving communication with the student body, ICT has also streamlined the interaction between the Student Union and the university management. Through the use of email, virtual meetings, and document-sharing platforms, the Student Union can efficiently coordinate with university officials and address issues more promptly. This increased efficiency helps in faster resolution of student issues and better implementation of policies that affect the student community (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

However, the integration of ICT in student union activities is not without challenges. One significant challenge is the digital divide, where some students may lack access to the necessary technologies or the skills to use them effectively. This can lead to unequal participation in the electoral process and other union activities. Addressing this issue requires targeted efforts to provide training and resources to bridge the digital literacy gap among students (Lawal, 2020).

Another challenge is ensuring the security and privacy of the digital platforms used by the Student Union. With the increased reliance on ICT, there is a greater risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches. The Student Union must implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect the integrity of their systems and the personal information of students. This involves regular updates and monitoring of their ICT infrastructure to detect and mitigate potential threats (Dare, 2014).

Despite these challenges, the benefits of ICT in enhancing student engagement and participation cannot be overstated. By providing platforms for online voting, forums for discussion, and tools for virtual collaboration, ICT empowers students to be more involved in the governance of their university. This active participation leads to a more vibrant and dynamic student community, where the voices of all students can be heard and considered in decision-making processes (Bukar & Timothy, 2020).

Furthermore, the use of ICT in the Student Union’s electoral processes has also led to cost savings and increased efficiency. Traditional paper-based voting systems are not only time-consuming but also costly in terms of printing and logistical arrangements. Digital voting systems, on the other hand, can be set up and managed with relatively lower costs and less environmental impact, contributing to a more sustainable approach to student governance (Modebelu & Igwebuike, 2014).

The role of ICT in facilitating communication extends beyond just the Student Union to include interactions with external stakeholders. For instance, through the use of social media and other online platforms, the Student Union can effectively communicate with alumni, prospective students, and other universities. This broader communication network helps build a stronger community and enhances the reputation of the university on a larger scale (Akem & Ukeli, 2014).

In terms of practical implementation, the Student Union at the University of Ilorin has adopted various ICT tools and platforms. These include a dedicated website for the Student Union, online voting systems for elections, and social media pages for regular updates and engagement. These tools are complemented by regular training sessions for both the union members and the students to ensure that everyone can effectively use the available technologies (Maina, 2020).

One notable success story of ICT integration is the increased voter turnout in student union elections. By making the voting process more accessible through online platforms, more students are encouraged to participate, leading to higher engagement and representation. This positive trend highlights the potential of ICT to democratize student governance and make it more inclusive (Emma, 2020).

Moreover, the transparency afforded by ICT tools helps in building trust between the Student Union and the student body. When students can see real-time updates on election results, meeting minutes, and other union activities, they are more likely to trust the processes and feel confident in the decisions made by their representatives. This trust is crucial for maintaining a healthy and effective student union (Chukwbikem, 2014).

Looking forward, there are several areas where the University of Ilorin Student Union can further enhance its use of ICT. One such area is the use of data analytics to better understand student needs and preferences. By analyzing data from surveys, feedback forms, and social media interactions, the Student Union can gain valuable insights into the issues that matter most to students and tailor their initiatives accordingly (Ogar, 2022).

Another area for improvement is the adoption of more advanced cybersecurity measures to protect against evolving threats. As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, the Student Union needs to stay ahead by investing in the latest security technologies and practices. This proactive approach will help in safeguarding the integrity of their ICT systems and maintaining the trust of the student body (Bamall, 2018).

Additionally, expanding the use of ICT in student engagement activities beyond elections and communication can further enhance the student experience. For example, virtual events, webinars, and online workshops can provide students with more opportunities for learning and networking, especially for those who may not be able to participate in person due to various constraints (Adediran & Kehinde, 2020).

The integration of ICT in the Student Union’s operations also sets a precedent for other universities to follow. By showcasing the benefits and addressing the challenges of ICT adoption, the University of Ilorin Student Union can serve as a model for other institutions looking to modernize their student governance practices. This leadership role can inspire broader changes in the higher education sector, leading to more effective and inclusive student unions nationwide (Kazeem & Balogun, 2020).

Statement of Problem

The adoption of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in student union activities at the University of Ilorin, while beneficial, has revealed several gaps that need addressing. One primary issue is the digital divide, which affects the participation of students in electoral processes and other union activities. Many students lack the necessary access to devices and reliable internet connections, which can hinder their ability to vote or engage in union-led initiatives (Lawal, 2020). This digital inequality creates an uneven playing field, where only technologically adept students can fully participate, thus undermining the inclusiveness of the student union.

Another significant gap is the varying levels of digital literacy among students. While some students are proficient with ICT tools, others struggle to use even basic technologies. This disparity impacts the overall effectiveness of ICT adoption, as not all students can equally benefit from the digital platforms employed by the Student Union (Williams, 2023). Without targeted training programs to enhance digital skills, many students will remain marginalized in union activities, affecting overall student engagement and representation.

Additionally, cybersecurity remains a pressing concern. As the Student Union increasingly relies on digital platforms, the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches grows. Ensuring the security and privacy of student data is crucial, yet the current measures may not be sufficient to counter sophisticated threats (Bamall, 2018). This vulnerability not only jeopardizes sensitive information but also erodes trust in the union’s digital initiatives.

Furthermore, while ICT has facilitated better communication between the Student Union and the university management, there are still challenges in ensuring effective and timely responses. Digital platforms can streamline communication, but they require constant monitoring and responsiveness, which can strain the union’s resources (Maina, 2020). This gap highlights the need for better resource allocation and training to manage digital communication channels efficiently.

Lastly, there is a need for comprehensive data analytics to understand student needs and preferences better. While ICT tools provide a wealth of data, the Student Union lacks advanced analytics capabilities to interpret this information effectively and tailor their initiatives accordingly (Adediran & Kehinde, 2020). Addressing this gap can significantly enhance the union’s ability to respond to student concerns and improve overall satisfaction.

These gaps underscore the need for a more inclusive, secure, and data-driven approach to ICT adoption in the University of Ilorin Student Union, ensuring that all students can participate fully and safely in their union activities.

Objectives of the Study

The following specific objectives were examined in this study:

  1. Examined the use of ICT in the University of Ilorin Student Union electoral processes, focusing on tools and effectiveness.
  2. Explored the interaction of the Student Union with university management and the entire student body through ICT.
  3. Identified the challenges faced by students in the attempt to vote during student union elections.
  4. Recommended effective solutions to curb these problems.

Research Questions

The following research questions were asked:

  1. What ICT tools are used in the University of Ilorin Student Union electoral processes, and how effective are they?
  2. How does the Student Union interact with university management and students using ICT?
  3. What challenges do students face when voting in student union elections?
  4. What solutions can be recommended to overcome these challenges?

Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses were tested:

  1. The use of ICT significantly improves the effectiveness of the University of Ilorin Student Union electoral processes.
  2. ICT enhances the interaction between the Student Union, university management, and students.
  3. Students face significant challenges in voting during student union elections due to ICT-related issues.
  4. Implementing recommended solutions will effectively address the challenges faced by students in the voting process.

 Significance of the Study

The significance of studying the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the University of Ilorin Student Union lies in its potential to offer broad and impactful benefits across multiple dimensions of student governance and engagement. This study holds value not only for the immediate academic community but also for other educational institutions, policymakers, and researchers interested in enhancing student participation and governance through technology.

Firstly, the study provides a comprehensive understanding of how ICT can transform electoral processes within student unions. By examining the tools and methods used in digital voting systems, the research highlights the advantages of such systems in terms of transparency, efficiency, and accessibility. Traditional voting methods often suffer from logistical challenges, delays, and potential biases, whereas ICT can mitigate these issues by streamlining the voting process, reducing errors, and ensuring that results are promptly and accurately recorded. This insight can be particularly beneficial for other universities considering the adoption of similar technologies to enhance their electoral processes.

Secondly, the research underscores the importance of effective communication between the Student Union and the student body. ICT tools, including social media, online forums, and instant messaging apps, facilitate real-time interaction and feedback, which are crucial for maintaining an engaged and informed student population. The study’s findings can guide student unions in leveraging these tools to build stronger, more responsive relationships with their constituencies, ultimately fostering a more inclusive and participatory governance environment.

Additionally, the study explores the interaction between the Student Union and university management, shedding light on how ICT can bridge communication gaps and improve collaborative efforts. Efficient communication channels enabled by ICT can lead to more timely and effective responses to student issues, better policy implementation, and a more harmonious relationship between students and administration. These insights are valuable for university officials seeking to enhance administrative processes and foster a cooperative campus atmosphere.

Furthermore, the research identifies the challenges faced by students in accessing and utilizing ICT during electoral processes and other union activities. Understanding these barriers is crucial for developing targeted interventions that can bridge the digital divide. By addressing issues such as inadequate access to technology, varying levels of digital literacy, and cybersecurity concerns, the study provides a roadmap for creating a more equitable and secure digital environment for all students. This aspect of the research is particularly significant in ensuring that the benefits of ICT are accessible to all, thereby promoting greater inclusivity and fairness.

The study also offers practical recommendations for overcoming the identified challenges, which can serve as a valuable resource for student unions and university administrators. By implementing the suggested solutions, institutions can enhance their ICT infrastructure, provide necessary training and resources to students, and adopt robust cybersecurity measures. These improvements not only benefit the student union’s operations but also contribute to the overall technological advancement of the university.

Moreover, the findings of this study have broader implications for educational policy and practice. Policymakers can use the insights gained from this research to develop guidelines and frameworks that support the integration of ICT in student governance across other institutions. By promoting best practices and addressing common challenges, educational policies can ensure that the advantages of ICT are maximized while minimizing potential risks.

Finally, this study contributes to the academic literature on ICT in education and governance, providing a case study that can inform future research. Scholars interested in the intersection of technology, education, and student participation can build on this research to explore new areas, test different hypotheses, and develop more comprehensive theories. The study’s findings can also serve as a benchmark for longitudinal studies that track the evolution and impact of ICT in student governance over time.

Scope of the Study

The study focused on the University of Ilorin Student Union, particularly examining the use of ICT in electoral processes, interactions with university management, and the challenges faced by students during elections.

Operational Definition of Terms

ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Tools and systems for managing and communicating information digitally.

Student Union: An organization representing the interests and welfare of students.

Electoral Processes: The series of activities related to conducting elections.

Transparency: The quality of being open and clear in processes and decision-making.

Digital Literacy: The ability to effectively use digital technologies.

Governance: The administration and management of an organization or institution.

Engagement: Active participation and involvement in activities.

Challenges: Obstacles or difficulties encountered in processes or activities.


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