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Higher Education

Private universities are the future of Nigeria

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The average private universities in Nigeria have a higher standard of education than any of the old state-owned universities in the country, the executive secretary of the Nigeria University Commission (NUC), Julius Okojie, has said. Mr. Okojie speaking at a brief ceremony held at the NUC headquarters in Abuja towards issuing an approval letter to the Ekiti State government to establish the newly created University of Science and Technology, Ifaki-Ekiti, said the plight of state-owned universities in the country is because of inconsistencies in policies of state governments. He said political wrangling in states not only affect the universities' access to funding but also their general management. Owners of various state universities have failed to improve access and the new administration is not favourably disposed to it.

Mr. Okojie said making university education accessible to all should be the priority, rather than location. He suggested that these issues should be addressed by state assemblies, who should make it mandatory for incoming governors to fund and uphold the guiding policies laid down by previous administrations in terms of running state universities. “We need to sit down in our Houses of Assembly and see what to do to ensure that these institutions survive,” he said. The political undercurrents have adversely affected state universities and have created the environment for private universities to thrive. There are 41 private universities today in the country which seem to be the future of the country in terms of quality and standard. Even the recently established private universities are better than some of the old state-owned universities. Their sorry state of affairs is because of the political wrangling that goes on in the country. Private universities even if they are not properly funded, because of their stable environment they grow. “Federal universities are always demonstrating for autonomy and more funds.” he said.

He therefore called for alternative strategies for funding the universities, saying government cannot do it alone. He then challenged the Ekiti State government to set high standards with the newly created university of science and technology. The governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, said the institution will open a new vista not just for tertiary education for the people but for the future of the state. “We are opening the doors for a third university,” he said, with an air of excitement, promising to deploy satellite technology to run a university which is expected to be ICT driven. The Ekiti State commissioner for education, Rufus Ajayi, also disclosed that the university will take off next year, as the project is already captured in the state's 2010 budget.

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