•Abdulsalami: no nation can survive without quality education Nigeria needs more universities to accommodate the growing number of students seeking admission annually, Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission Prof. Abubakar Rasheed has said.
He said this at the award of provisional licences to Atiba University, Oyo and five other private universities that were recently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), in Abuja on Tuesday.
The other five private universities include: Admiralty university, Ibusa, Delta; Spiritan University, Nneochi, Abia; Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, Oyo; PAMO University of Medical Sciences, Port Harcourt, Rivers, and Eko University of Medicine and Health Sciences Ijanikin, Lagos State.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Atiba University, Abdulrahman Idris, received the certificate of approval of provisional licence for the institution. The NUC boss said the total space available in the universities can accommodate only 500, 000 students out of the 1.7 million candidates that wrote the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in May.
This, he explained, leaves nearly 1.2 million students frustrated annually. He said: “It is our believe that this country requires more universities, more spaces. Only 30 per cent of our applicants get admitted every year.
“As at this year, the total available space in Nigeria universities can only accommodate about 500, 000 plus students. Which means every year, over 1 million, 1.2 million youths are left frustrated and rejected. Somehow, they eventually get tired and that is a recipe in this country for instability.
“That is definitely one way to grow an army of frustrated youths. We grow them because of this lack of access in our universities and that opens door to so many terrible practices, which are currently engaging the attention of our commission.
“Some people go to neighbouring countries to establish universities specifically for Nigerians. They go to Niger Republic and other countries, establish universities, where 99 per cent of their students are Nigerians and award degrees in one year. They find their way back to Nigeria. This is a serious problem.” Minister of Education Malam Adamu Adamu said the problem of access in Nigerian universities required continued efforts to address.
Adamu, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Sonny Echono, noted that government hopes to tackle the challenges with the approval of more provisional licences to universities to operate. The minister said:
“The problem of access in universities in Nigeria continues to pose serious challenges that therefore require continued efforts to address.
“With the approval of the six new private new universities we intend to address the issue of access. Prior to this approval, Nigeria had 154 universities serving a population of 180 million people.
“Private universities have contributed and will continue to contribute in opening up admission space to the growing population of candidates seeking university education.” Also, a former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, assured the commission that the newly established universities would not fail the nation.
He said the number of universities in the country was too small to serve Nigeria’s growing population. The former head of state added that no nation could survive without quality education.
The number of private universities in Nigeria has risen to 74 with the granting of provisional licences to the six private universities.