BY LAIDE AKINBOADE-ORIERE
ABUJA – In order to increase the number of universities in Nigeria from 129 to 138 the Federal Government Thursday, gave 9 new private universities their licences.
Minister of Education, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau who gave the approved universities their licences in Abuja, he who warned the newly licenced universities against unwholesome practices, that any university that is found wanting would be sanctioned.
It would be recalled that on Wednesday, February 25, 2015, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved 9 new universities in the country.
The names of the universities that got licenses in Abuja included, Augustine University, Ilara, Lagos; Chrisland University, Owode, Ogun State; Christopher University, Mowe, Ogun State; Hallmark University, Ijebu-Itele, Ogun State; Kings University, Ode-Omu, Osun State; Micheal and Cecilia Ibru University, Owhrode, Delta State; Mountain Top Unversity, Makogi/Oba Ogun state; Ritman University, Ikot-Epene, Akwa- Ibom State and Summit University, Offa, Kwara State.
Before now Nigeria had 40 Federal, 39 State and 50 private universities.
According to him, “While government appreciates the courage of the proprietors to partner with it on a project of this nature, which is not expected to be for profit, it will not tolerate any breach of the conditions of the approval. Any unwholesome practice or operation outside the provisions of National Universities Commissions, NUC guidelines are unacceptable and will attract appropriate sanctions.
“Proper care should also be taken to maintain the hostels, cafeteria, toilets and other facilities in the universities in such conditions that students are able to cultivate decent behaviours and manners, in addition to academic excellence”.
He stressed that substantive licences would only be awarded to universities that are well managed and meet the requirements of the federal government.
“It is also imperative to emphasis that the provisional approval for these universities to operate is intended to create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within the first five years of operation. During this period, the new universities will be affiliated to older generation universities, for academic and administrative mentoring to be moderated by NUC.
This part of NUC’s initiative for early warning signals to detect compromises in quality for the application of corrective and remedial measures to redress such situations.
“However, substantive licences can only be issued to well managed institutions after three years of probation following their respective performance and growth, within guidelines stipulated by the commission”, the Minister said.
On the condemnation in some quarters that private universities are too many in the country, he said “Inadequate access to university education and enrolment of students in excess of the carrying capacity of the universities has consequently remained an albatross in education of the tertiary level.
In 2013, the Joint Admission And Matriculation Board, JAMB, , announced that over 1.7 million candidates registered for UTME, an increase of about 13.35% on the 2012 figure. Despite this, there is only space for one-third of this application, and the remaining candidates, who may even pass the admission cut-off mark, may never get admitted”.
He therefore tasked the new universities to ensure they sustain funding towards improving their infrastructure, equipment for teaching and learning, as well as human resources up to a level that will earn them accreditation by NUC and other professional bodies.
The Minister of State for Education, Professor Viola Onwuliri, in her address challenged the new universities not to compromise standards in their students and staff. That they should ensure they discourage examination malpractices.
She also condemned some of the universities Nigerians attend outside the country, “It is time we say no to some of the unqualified universities some of our children attend outside the shore of this country. We have discovered that some of these schools are attended by our children that they are class thing, to tell people that my child school in Ghana or Ukraine.
We shouldn’t encourage our children to go to such schools. And some of these nations don’t treat our children very well. Our universities are very good and some of us schooled here up to our Doctorate degrees”.