The Commission Examines 270 Private University Applications

The National Universities Commission (NUC) in Nigeria is currently considering license applications from 270 new privately owned higher education institutions, with scholars praising the potential expansion but urging that standards must not be compromised. The Female Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has risen by 4.2 percentage points, reaching 37.0% in 2023, as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey Report. The government has undertaken initiatives to empower women, including promoting girls’ education, skill development programs, entrepreneurship support, and workplace safety policies.

Nigeria currently has 270 universities, of which 54.8% are private. The demand for higher education in Nigeria consistently exceeds available capacity, with around 33.3% of applicants being admitted in 2022. The NUC has received applications from new private universities aiming to institutionalize transnational education in Nigeria. Dr. Chris Maiyaki, the Executive Secretary of NUC, mentioned that foreign universities are now at liberty to contribute and be active players in expanding access to university education in Nigeria.

Professor Yakubu Ochefu, the Secretary General of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, emphasized that university enrollment in Nigeria is low, around 8%, below the African and global averages. He acknowledged the potential benefits of more private universities, including healthy competition and improved quality of education and research output. Some privately owned institutions have achieved high global rankings, displacing first-generation federal government-run universities.

The proliferation of private universities is seen as positive, provided there is sufficient capability to maintain quality. The establishment of foreign universities in Nigeria is seen as an opportunity to reduce the number of Nigerians traveling abroad for education. However, concerns have been raised about the government’s ability to sustain existing tertiary institutions in terms of funding while licensing new private universities. Overall, the expansion of higher education institutions is viewed as an opportunity for informed choices and healthy competition.

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