The Nigerian government has approved the establishment of 37 new private universities located in various parts of the country.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this to reporters after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Monday.
Mr Adamu said the government approved the establishment of the universities due to the importance of education in bolstering the economic fortunes of the country.
Monday’s approval has put the number of private universities in Nigeria to 148. In April last year, the government approved 12 new private universities that brought the figure to 111.
There are currently 258 universities in Nigeria; 50 federal universities, 60 state universities and 148 private universities.
University education is the highest level of tertiary institution in Nigeria, with most students sitting the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) opting for the universities, rather than the polytechnics or colleges of education.
In the past year, both Lagos and Sokoto State governments have converted some polytechnics and colleges of education to universities.
In January 2022, Lagos State converted the trio of Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education ((AOCOED), Ijanikin, Lagos; Michael Otedola College of Primary Education (MOCPED), Noforija, Epe, Lagos, and Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Ikorodu into universities.
The Sokoto State Government has also converted the Shehu Shagari College of Education into a university.
The existing dichotomy between university and polytechnic graduates has also worsened the situation as polytechnic graduates are made to face hurdles that their university counterparts would not face in their civil service career.
Proliferation of private universities
The incessant industrial actions in government-owned universities in Nigeria has over the years created a market for the private universities, which is getting more investments despite reservations by the academic staff unions in the public universities.
The first three private universities in Nigeria – Babcock University, Igbinedion University and Madonna University– were established in 1999, according to the National Universities Commission (NUC). By 2023, however, the figure has risen to 148 private universities, surpassing the number of federal and state universities put together.
Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe
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