Abuja – Despite stringent measures in getting provisional licence from the National Universities Commission (NUC) to operate universities in Nigeria, a total of 303 proprietors seeking to establish private institutions are currently jostling for licences from the regulatory agency.
Professor Abubakar Rasheed, NUC’s Executive Secretary made the disclosure on Monday, in Abuja, at the opening of a two-day National Summit on Private Universities in Nigeria.
Current statistics of universities in Nigeria put the figures at over 170, with 43 being federal, 48 state and 79 privately owned.
But NUC which is tasked with regulating their activities said it acknowledges the invaluable roles such private institutions play in bridging the gap of tertiary education in Nigeria.
“However, universities have unfortunately undermined the issue of quality, character moulding among other virtues, hence making it difficult for them to compete globally,” the NUC Scribe stated.
Rasheed who disclosed that getting any university registered in Nigeria requires 14 painstaking step and procedures, all of which must be fully met, noted that getting all 303 universities licensed to provide more access to tertiary education, would have been a laudable idea, if only they can meet the criteria.
On establishing private universities for profit motive, the NUC Boss kicked against it, saying institutions are fashioned after genuine passion to give back to the society, rather than having a business empire.
He said some proprietors of private universities have come out to complain to him, regretting that they ventured into universities without tangible return on their investments.
He said: “You see; the challenges of providing education for all our people are very challenging, especially young and growing population in the country.
“So we need partnership with the private sector because the fact of the matter is that government alone cannot provide all the resources required to provide education for our people.
“So we are segregating and we are getting the input of the private sector, so those of them with the passion, with the commitment to establish this institution, we want to encourage them to do so and we also want to guide them to ensure that they do it properly.
“As I speak to you there are 303 application forms from people seeking to establish private universities on my table in the office.
“Out of this 303, about 208 are in the first stage of our requirement for getting a university registered, that is the conception stage, 63 of them are on stage 6, then about 30 of them have reached step 8, only two applicants have attained step 10.”