Beyond 303 NEW Private University Applications in Nigeria, Quality Access Is Key

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Nigeria’s university regulator, National Universities Commission (NUC), is processing about 303 applications for private universities in the nation. Today, Nigeria has 43 federal, 48 state and 79 private universities. But note that ABU Zaria admits more than 30% of the combined 79 private schools on capacity. So, looking at the number of private universities may seem like they are many, but examining the access they enable, you will see the impacts have been marginal.

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.”

My proposal is M&A (mergers and acquisitions) in the private university space to deepen capacity through the economies of scale. Sure, pure acquisition will not happen, because by law, private universities in Nigeria are charities making the institutions harder for direct acquisition. So, mergers will be the likely option.

Nigeria needs to look for expanding access over just awarding licenses where every local government area will have a university where about 200 students are admitted in a year. Today, all the private universities account for about 6% of the total capacity in the nation. One federal university, NOUN (National Open University of Nigeria), admits more in one year than what the private schools enroll in four years: “NOUN admits over 100,000 every year, has 450,000 students and is targeting 750,000 in the next few years”. We need access; we also need quality. Most times, scale helps to get both done. That is why NUC should explore looking at how these schools can combine!

The National Universities Commission (NUC) on Monday said the 75 private universities Nigeria account for less than six per cent of students’ population in the country’s university system.

The Executive Secretary of the Commission, Abubakar Rasheed, disclosed this at a retreat organised for Vice Chancellors of Nigerian universities in Abuja.

According to Daily Trust newspaper, the Executive Secretary said the number of students being admitted each year by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) was more than what the 75 private universities enroll in four years.

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