Stakeholders worry over proliferation of public universities in Nigeria

Stakeholders worry over proliferation of public universities in Nigeria

Stakeholders in the education sector are worried over the proliferation of tertiary institutions in the country.

This development followed the report that the National Assembly is considering various bills to create about 32 Federal Colleges of Education, 11 Federal Colleges of Agriculture, and five Federal Polytechnics, in addition to existing institutions.

DAILY POST recalls that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, while addressing Reps members on December 30, 2023, noted that the Green Chamber received and considered 962 bills, 500 motions, and 153 petitions in six months.

This means that if the bills sail through, the number of federal-owned universities in Nigeria will rise to 99 in the coming months.

Findings by DAILY POST indicated that Nigeria currently has a total of 52 federal universities, and 63 state universities with some states of the federation hosting more than one and 147 private universities.

DAILY POST also reported that the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities, COPSUN, had cautioned state governments against the proliferation of universities, calling on both the federal and the state governments to improve on funding universities and enhance the welfare of the university workers.

“To maintain international best practices and be recognized among first-rated universities, the governments at Federal and the State levels should improve on the funding of their universities and enhance the welfare of the workforce,” COPSUN said, adding that state governments should exercise restraint in establishing new universities but invest heavily on the existing ones to improve on the quality of their infrastructure.

DAILY POST further reports that the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had expressed concern over the proliferation of tertiary institutions, saying the establishment of universities without a template for funding was one of the factors responsible for the falling standard of tertiary education in the country.

ASUU National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke stated this while delivering a paper at the 14th Ralph Opara Memorial Lecture, tagged “State of tertiary education in Nigeria: Identifying historical issues and misconceptions, contemplating solutions,” organized by the National Association of Seadogs in Benin.

He also noted that the government’s method of appointment and recruitment into state-owned universities has also contributed to the problem.

Osedeke said, “One of the major problems facing the tertiary institution is the establishment of universities without a template for funding.

“The method of appointment and recruitment into state-owned universities by the government has also been a problem.’’

Speaking to DAILY POST, UniAbuja ASUU Chairman, Dr Kasim Umaru expressed concern over the National Assembly members sponsoring bills to create more universities in the country.

He said that every lawmaker wants to have a university in their village, not minding the conditions attached.

He said, “It is so sad to see more universities springing up. The already existing ones are not properly funded and they are trying to create new ones. We classify them as constituency project universities.

“For legislators, you must have a university in your village whether it is funded or not, they are not interested. Just to create a problem for the system.

“That’s what they are doing and that is not what a university should be. We are as worried as every Nigerian.

“Who are the lecturers that would teach in those universities when the ones in the already existing ones are leaving the country because of poor remuneration and you are creating more universities? It is a sad development.”

He urged the government to ban the creation of more universities, alleging that state governments were creating universities to get funds from the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund.

“Let the government ban the creation of public universities and set the conditions for the state governments to start a university.

“They should make sure the states have the financial capacity to run a university for five years without TETFund support. Universities must be run for five years before having access to TeTFund,” he said.

DAILY POST also reports that the Port Harcourt Zonal Coordinator of ASUU, Stanley Ogoun, had called for the urgent amendment of the National Universities Commission Act to stop governors from indiscriminately establishing new universities without adequately funding them.

The union said governors were turning the establishment of tertiary institutions into constituency projects at the detriment of existing ones.

On his part, the Chairman of ASUU, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Gbolahan Bolarin, had described the move by the lawmakers as misplaced priorities.

He said, “Misplaced priority. You have institutions that are trying to stay afloat yet the only thing you can think of is to create more institutions so that your people would think you are working.

“They should concentrate more on projects that would impact the lives of their constituents instead of creating more problems for the nation.”

Stakeholders worry over proliferation of public universities in Nigeria

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