By Dele Sobowale
NOTE: Last week, the PUNCH report of April 9, 2014, which induced this article was attributed to Charles Abah alone. It has been drawn to my notice that it was jointly contributed by Mr Niyi Odebode and Charles Abah. I sincerely apologise to Niyi Odebode for this mistake.
The second part of the article starts where the first one ended. So forgive me if some of it is repeated. It would make no sense without this repetition. Dele Sobowale.
Just in case you think that Obong and Southwestern are to be pitied because they are not well-known, or their proprietors are not rich and famous, then take a look at the table below. These are some of the heavyweights in the sector.
Bell University Obasanjo 232
American University Atiku 280
Igbinedion University Igbinedion 658
Igbinedion University illustrates the long and difficult road to travel by proprietors of new private universities. It was one of the first three private universities to be approved in 1999. The other two being Babcock University, Ilishan which received 2,139 applications and Madonna University, Okija, to which 1,021 applied. Thus, almost 15 years after opening its doors, Igbinedion is still struggling to fill its classrooms.
The only exception among private universities with sole proprietors to attract more than one thousand applicants is:
Afe Babalola University Babalola 1,588
Faith-based universities versus others
Private universities can be classified into two: faith-based and truly private. Even the faith-based institutions fall into two categories – Christian and Islamic.
On the whole, faith-based universities perform better than sole proprietorships; mostly because they have the youth of their particular faith to draw on. But, with the exception of Covenant University, Babcock and Madonna, even the best faith-based universities are struggling to attract candidates.
Redeemers University in Mowe, surprisingly got only 349 applications and Mcpherson University in Seriki Sotayo, Ogun State only 22. The Islamic universities did a lot worse than the others.
However, while faith-based universities can survive for years, while running huge deficits, the universities owned by private individuals cannot rely on their deficits being covered long after the founders have gone.
One private disaster foretelling others:
Already, one private university in Ibadan, which ran a Law School for years, in September last year had to place an announcement in the newspapers which read as follows:
“Due to circumstances beyond our control, the Senate and Management of the university have decided to close down the Law Program until further notice.
The university is already discussing with the National Universities Commission on how to distribute past and current students who do not wish to transfer to other accredited programs of the university to Law Programs in other universities.
We regret any inconvenience this decision might cause our numerous stakeholders.”
What the university called “inconvenience” would be regarded as monumental disaster to the most important stakeholders – the students and their parents. Let me mention a few.
First of all, that announcement means that students who had spent several years in the university, after admission to read law are not only unqualified to be admitted to Law School, to practice law or to do anything else for that matter. Meanwhile, the fees paid to the university during those years are now in danger of becoming money down the drain. Nor can the “transfer to other accredited courses” be made possible without considerable difficulties.
Which other faculty will grant them certificates without meeting certain core requirements for that discipline? Is it economics, sociology, Mass Communications or what? So, while on the surface the offer appears genuine, it is in reality mostly a bogus offer. The unpleasant truth is that several students who might have sought admission to other institutions and who might have studied something else and graduated, are now in a limbo. The money, time and efforts spent are gone and, right now, there is nothing to show for it.