By Henry Tyohemba
Amid an increasing wave of private universities in Nigeria, stakeholders have expressed concern over the poor status of public ones, calling on the government to invest more in the institutions.
The federal executive council (FEC) recently approved 20 new private universities. Before the approval, Nigeria had 43 federal universities, 52 state universities, and 79 private universities, making a total of 174 universities in Nigeria.
A research assistant at the University of Abuja, Humphrey Ukeaja said even though the creation of 20 private universities is not a bad initiative, the government should think beyond the mere creation of private institutions but invest heavily in public universities.
“Moreover, in developed countries, private universities still exist but the issue is this, we have neglected the fact that we need to turn our public universities into the modern edifice, architecture, and something that welcomes the public into modernism,” he said.
Adding his voice, the president, National Association Of Nigerian Students (NANS), Asefon Sunday said the approval of the new universities naturally should be a plus as they will bring more competition into the sector thereby improving research and innovations and also providing choices for students and researchers.
He said the tertiary education system is now fully commercialized and investors are trouping into the sector but stressed that the approval of the private universities might end up weakening the public tertiary institutions more given the reality of our system.
“Lecturers and experienced staff will be drawn from public institutions thereby weakening the human capital in public institutions, this will affect output in terms of quality of graduates from public institutions and in the long run relegate the public institutions especially state-run institutions to the choice of the poorest of the poor in the society,” he said.