By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Following the provisional approval of four new private university in Nigeria for the commencement of academic programmes by the National Universities Commission (NUC), Nigeria now has 79 private universities, and a total of 173 universities both private and public.
The executive secretary of NUC, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, at the presentation of the licences to the universities in Abuja, said the four universities had been under scrutiny since 2006.
The universities are Greenfield University, Kaduna state; Dominion University, Ibadan; Trinity University, Laloko, Ogun state and Westland University, Iwo, Osun, Orient Education gathered.
Rasheed stressed the need to increase the number of universities in the country, taking into consideration the country’s 200 million population, adding that with the country’s population, only about two million students can access university education.
“Only less than 6 per cent students’ enrolment is in private universities. We hope the NUC works closely with you to ensure we introduce courses that are more attractive to prospective students and more appropriate to our current move to re-position the education system in Nigeria.
“All over the world, private initiatives are welcome. Proper education cannot be handled by government alone. The NUC is not ready to sacrifice quality on the altar of access; we must ensure adherence to quality; we do not want to encourage you to run the university with impunity”, he said.
Rasheed added that the commission was currently processing about 270 applications in which many of them are active for approval.
In a remark, the minister of education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the emergence of private universities had provided an environment for heavy competition that stimulates improvement in quality service delivery.
Represented by Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), the minister said the approval was a clear manifestation of the continued mutual partnership between the government and private sector to ensure provision of quality education.
He noted that private universities in the country had contributed immensely to the opening up of access to education over the past 20 years.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the provisional licence for the four universities to operate is intended to create room for mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of their operations.
“During the probation period, the four universities will be attached to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring.
“It should also be noted that substantive licence will only be issued to the universities if they are adjudged of being worthy of it after the three years of probation,’’ he said.
Bishop Taiwo Adelakun, Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dominion University, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries, appreciated the commission for the approval and pledged to keep to the mandate for the establishment of the universities.