The Federal Government has canvassed for the establishment of more private universities, noting that the current 193 universities are grossly inadequate for a country of over 200 million population.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at the presentation of provisional licences to promoters and proprietors of the new 20 private universities recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
Mr Adamu, represented by the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, called for more private sector investment in University education in the country.
“Government is also well aware that countries that are consistently well-ranked in Human Development indices have, in recognition of the important role of Universities in human capital development, maintaining a respectable number of Universities relative to their population.
“In relation to Nigeria’s population of over 200 million, the current 193 Universities is quite low when compared to those of other economies such as Brazil (209 million) 441 Universities, Mexico (126million) 375 Universities, Russia (1445 million) 741 Universities.
“Despite the steady progress being made in this area of our national development, a random poll of the public opinion reveals some concern that the private universities had become too many. Comparative figures of Universities in other countries attest to the fact that this is not the case.
“It is the collaborative efforts of the private individuals and group that made this possible for these nations and I believe will also enable Nigeria to close her own gap in the university education sub-sector.
“The above scenario indicates that Nigeria needs more Universities. We shall therefore continue to encourage NUC to keep strengthening its quality assurance mechanism so that as the number increases, quality and relevance to national needs are not compromised.
“In 2019, the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB) announced that out of over 1.8 million candidates registered for the UTME, only 612,000 were admitted in Nigerian Universities representing 34 per cent.
“This shows gross inadequacy in terms of access. Private Universities have contributed to the opening up of admission space for the swelling population of candidates seeking University education.
“The growth of private Universities in Nigeria has created an environment for healthy competition that stimulates improvement in quality service delivery in the system.
“The African Centres of Excellence Impact project has 44 Universities from West and Central Africa, including Seventeen (17) centres in Fourteen (14) Universities from Nigeria. Covenant University and Redeemers University both private Universities are among the 14 Universities participating in Nigeria.
“The provisional approval for these 20 Universities to operate is intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of operation,” he said.