The Vice Chancellor of the University of Maiduguri, Abubakar Njodi, said over 36,000 undergraduate students recently applied to be admitted into the institution despite the Boko Haram insurgency affecting the state.
The second generation university is only allowed to admit 9,000 students every year.
“The year before last we had a request of over 28,000 students who are vying for only 9000 spaces; so we took only 9000 and the remaining were asked to apply for another year,” said Mr Njodi who spoke with journalists on Monday at a press briefing marking the flag off of the University’s 23rd convocation ceremony.
He said the university which was established in 1975 and started its academic activities the following year with about 60 students, has now grown exponentially to have a large student population seeking to be admitted despite its limited intake quota given by the Nigeria University Commission.
The Professor of Physical Education said the greatest challenge ever experienced by the university was that of security especially in the past nine years.
Boko Haram has carried out attacks within and around the perimeters of the university leading to the deaths of students and staffers of the institution, including a renowned professor.
Despite the challenge, the VC said the university has never for once been shut, “and ironically the students enrolment which was supposed to dwindle continued to increase”.
“As you are aware, the University of Maiduguri has never been closed, despite the sounds of bombs, guns amidst the risk of kidnapping in the last eight years,” he said.
“The first few years of the insurgency actually affected the student enrolment in the university, which had to do with the fear parents expressed over the security of their wards,” he continued.
He said the fear was later overcome seeing the resilience and proactive measures the university had been taking to secure its campus.
“But somehow, by 2014, our student enrollment has grown so much that it has even surpassed the previous ones. Here, we have to be pleading and begging some of the prospective students that they should be patient until another year.
“The year before last, we had a request of over 28,000 students who are (were) vying for only 9000 spaces. We took only 9000 and the remaining were asked to apply for another year.
“We thought the following year would be better. But last year, we had over 37,000 qualified candidates who wanted to enroll into the University of Maiduguri. But of the 37,000, yet again, we are only allowed to enroll 9000. And of these 9000, all of them, except for a few, who did not meet the requirements of their departments have registered.
“So that is to tell you that we are even doing better. Instead of the conflict bringing our enrollment and admission profile backward, it turns out that our challenge has turn out to be our strength.
“So at it is now, we have been pleading for more space and pleading with the authority if they can increase the quota for us. But even if the authorities increase our quota, it certainly cannot go beyond or double the 9000. Assuming if it even doubles the number, we can only end up with 18, 000. And by the following year, we will end up with having about 40, 000 application.”
As part of the activities marking the 23rd convocation ceremony, Mr Njodi said the university would invite dignitaries to commission projects executed via supports from TETFUND and other philanthropic individuals and corporate organisations worth over N2 billion.
The convocation will have 14,368 students of 2015/1016 and 2016/2017 academic session graduating with awards of degrees, diplomas and certificates. Of this figure, the VC said 78 students came out with First Class degrees.
Nigeria’s former Secretary to the Government of Federation, Yayale Ahmed, is expected to deliver the convocation lecture, titled ‘The Nigerian Federation and the Clamour for Restructuring’, which holds on Friday.