New Varsities Not Relevant Now

New Varsities Not Relevant Now

In times when existing tertiary institutions in the country are overwhelmed by various distractions bordering on poor funding resulting in industrial disputes, it is the most inexpedient time to contemplate establishing new ones.

 

There are over 170 universities in Nigeria. As of 2021, 79 were privately owned; Federal Universities amounted to 43, while state universities were 48. Some of Nigeria’s oldest universities are the University of Ibadan, the University of Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ahmadu Bello University and the University of Lagos. These four institutions were founded between the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1960s. At that time, they were adequate for our population size.

With the exponential growth in the nation’s population, it becomes obvious that more tertiary institutions must be put in place to cater for the burgeoning population. 

 Nigeria with a 36 states structure and the Federal Capital Territory is indeed a large entity requiring needs for more universities. As a result of the oil boom years of the 1970s, tertiary level of education was expanded to reach every sub-region of Nigeria. The Federal and State governments were previously the only bodies licensed to operate universities. Recently, licenses have been granted to individuals, corporate and religious bodies to establish private universities in the country.

The National Universities Commission, NUC, is the major accreditation and regulatory body that enforces uniform standard and sets admissions capacity of every university in Nigeria as it is established.

 The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, has said the recent creation of new universities and polytechnics by the Federal Government is meant for the 2023 presidential campaigns.

The group in a press conference at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka before its current truncated protest over ASUU lingering strike said the move amounted to politicising university education.

The Federal Government had recently announced the establishment of six new private universities across the country, bringing the total universities in Nigeria to about 176 universities both public and private.

 Addressing journalists, the Owerri zone of ASUU wondered why the government should be establishing new universities at this critical time when it is unable to properly fund the existing ones.

The coordinator of ASUU in the zone, Uzo Onyebinama said the association would ask the National Universities Commission, NUC, to review its Act to empower it to control the rate at which state governments were also establishing universities even when they couldn’t fund existing ones.

Onyebinama said: “We had asked the Federal Government in our various conferences why the need of creating universities when it can’t fund existing ones.

“But you know, as politicians, given that we are approaching the 2023 elections, they want to have something for their campaigns.

“When they visit those communities, they tell them they’ve given them universities. It’s not about opening universities, but about funding and sustenance. Why establish new universities when the ones on ground are mere shadows of themselves.

“If they fund the existing ones and expand their facilities, those ones can absorb whatever number of students these new ones will take. Truth is that the same new universities will tomorrow join other old ones to lament about funding. And another government will come up to establish theirs.

“Both the Federal and state governments are guilty of this and that is why we are asking the Federal Government to stop the proliferation of universities”.

However, the reports that fresh federal universities are being contemplated across the country, thus reinforcing the ASUU’s position that just a few miles away to the 2023 signpost when general elections would hold, plans are afoot to establish new universities.

Besides, several organisations and individuals have been granted provisional licenses to establish universities. With these existing universities which are under sundry pressures of under-funding occasioned by poor research capacity among others it is abnormal to consider establishing new ones for the sake of it.

We are totally against any move that would add to the decay we already have in the system which would be deplorable by building more universities just to achieve a political point.

We call for a prompt attention to existing public universities through adequate funding and firming up the ground rules for private ones to deliver credible solutions as is the existing practice in other climes.

It is not about the number but about what substance they can deliver to further our national cause.

Existing universities private and public are capable of running the nation to its purported goals. It is not about numbers.


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