The Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC) Professor Abubakar Rasheed has revealed that the Commission is currently processing a total of 303 applications for the establishment of more private universities in Nigeria.
He also disclosed that the Commission is working with the National Assembly to review the laws and guidelines for the establishment of a private university in the country, saying some of the provisions have become obsolete.
Rasheed spoke at the 1st National Summit on Private Universities held on Monday in Abuja, where the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, tasked universities on ensuring quality of the product of the system.
The NUC boss said the applications were received from a group of individuals, corporate organisations/foundations and faith-based organisations from all over the country.
He said Nigeria currently has 170 universities out of which 79 are privately owned noting that this number was grossly inadequate for Nigeria’s population estimated at 200 million.
He said one of the requirements for the establishment of a university that is no longer feasible was the need to acquire 100,000 hectares of land where it would be sited.
He said there was the need to review, rethink, and reinvent private universities in Nigeria to play their critical role of providing affordable and quality education to the teeming Nigerians.
Rasheed said because of exorbitant fees charged by some private universities, many of them were not always able to exhaust their admission quota.
He said: “The summit is a kind of stock-taking of where we are and where we are coming from and where should we be going. How do we make private universities accessible, affordable, and improve the quality so that they can compete with their counterpart in the world?
He said the summit was intended to brainstorm on how to bring about improvement in the university education in the country, particularly the private universities.
Minster of Education, Malam Adamu who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Sonny Echono, said it was unfortunate that the character component of the preparation of students in universities in Nigeria was completely lost.
He said students were graduated from universities based on the character and learning, insisting that more has to be done by institutions to mould the minds and citizens that could take the country to the next century.
Adamu said: “In your operations as private universities, you should strive to build good character, sound knowledge, integrity and leadership in your students.”
He urged the institutions to tackle the challenges bedevilling them such as improper staffing, excessive proprietor influences and inadequate funding among others.
The minister also charged the institutions to adhere to admission requirements and address the issue of their inability to fill the admission quota allocated to them, noting that at the centre of the crisis was the relatively higher fees that they charge.
He also tasked them on adherence to extant guidelines and regulations of the NUC, good university governance as well as adequate and sustainable funding.