The National Universities Commission (NUC) said it is processing about 303 new applications for the establishment of private universities in Nigeria.
Nigeria currently has about 170 universities (43 federal universities, 48 state-owned universities, and 79 private universities).
The NUC chief, Abubakar Rasheed, said this in Abuja at a two-day summit on Nigerian private universities. The summit had the theme: “Private University Education Delivery In Nigeria; Challenges and Opportunities.”
Also speaking at the summit, the Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Ishaq Oloyede, accused Nigerian private universities of aiding academic corruption in the country.
He said private university operators are going against many laws guiding university operations in Nigeria.
”Government opened up space a few years ago for private operators to complement government effort in providing university education to Nigerians, but it seems like the aim is gradually being defeated. Some of the proprietors choose to run the universities like a family business and it ought not to be so,” he said.
According to him, “We complained that public institutions have lots of problems thinking the private institutions will help, but they have complicated the issue.”
He said private universities have brought another corrupt tendency to what the country has in public institutions.
”Only the Vice Chancellor is recognised by law as being in charge of the day-to-day running of the university, while every other person with ceremonial titles plays supportive roles.
“If I were to be a university proprietor, I would prefer to take the position of Chairman of the Council because of the control power attached to that office,” he said.
He urged the proprietors of private institutions to steer clear of making illegal money.
Presenting a paper on “Regulating Private Universities Education Delivery in Nigeria: The Role of National Universities Commission,” the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Abubakar Rasheed, said the commission is processing about 303 applications for the establishment of new private universities in Nigeria.
“We are currently processing 303 applications for the establishment of private universities in the Commission. They were received from groups of individuals, corporate organisations/foundations and faith-based organisations from all over the country,” he said.
He said 208 out of the 303 applications are on step 3 in the processing of their applications.
“Sixty-three applicants representing 20.79 per cent of the total applicants, are on step 6 having only submitted their completed application forms and strategic documents and are waiting for first verification visit, while 30 applicants, representing 9.9 per cent are on step 8 and have had first verification visit conducted to their proposed university campuses.”
He said two of the applicants, representing 0.66 per cent, have attained step 10 and the second verification visit has been conducted for them.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, said running a private university is a very serious business which requires great discipline.
Mr Adamu who was represented at the summit by the permanent secretary of the ministry, Sunny Echono, urged private universities to address the major challenges militating against their operation.
He said some of them are issues of staffing, poor or non-implementation of university governance arrangement, excessive proprietor influence, and inadequate funding among others.
The National Universities Commission of Nigeria was established to promote quality higher education in Nigeria.