By Idris Nabila
The public university versus private university debate in Nigeria has been ongoing for a while now on social media platforms and discussions among students, parents and others, with both sides bringing fair and reasonable arguments to the table.
However, an angle that cannot be overlooked about the argument is the fact that the said argument is not based on which of the universities offer the best education or has more standard, but rather it is based on which of the universities is the hardest.
Public university students claim it is easier to pass in a private university where the system actually works in favour of the students. On the other hand, private university students argue that it is not so easy, as they also put in the same amount of hard work and dedication to succeed.
The basis of this argument can be described as “a competition for who suffers the most”. There is a saying that: “No two people have the same experiences”. Ever wondered why most if
not all public university students from different institutions have definitely encounteredsameor
similar experiences? While the experiences in private universities may differ depending on the institutions.
Conveniently speaking, public university students from different parts of Nigeria are likely to bond over shared or collective trauma due to their experiences. Private university students will undeniably agree to the fact that public universities are way harder.
However, they do not want their efforts to be undermined and taken for granted. As they likewise, have to work hard too to earn their grades. Public university students are always awe over the amount of first-class students graduating from private universities. You cannot blame them because the record of first-class graduates in their own schools are relatively low compared to private universities that record thousands of first-class every year. It is no news that some departments in public universities have not produced a single first-class for years now. Is it that no student has ever worked hard enough to get a first-class?
As a young person seeking admission into a university, you yearn for a better education, worthwhile experiences and also good memories. Some people get the opposite after going into a public university; traumatic experiences, bad memories that may sting you or live with you forever and even regrets. If you ask someone who graduated from a public university if they would like to go through that journey again, the likelihood of them saying no is like eighty percent.
Another aspect that is overlooked is the living conditions of students in both universities.
Public universities have hostels with rooms occupied by more than twenty people. The condition of the rooms is nothing to write home about, the dilapidated toilets shared by over fifty people, the unavailability of water in these hostels, roommate and squatting issues. How can a student focus on academics with these various challenges? Not to mention the illnesses like malaria, typhoid and even toilet infections students have to treat due to poor living conditions in these hostels. This is the sad tale of most students in various public institutions across Nigeria, this is major factor that affects the mental health of these students.
A bitter truth that cannot be put aside is the various problems of public universities in Nigeria which include: rigorous admission procedures, poor facilities, recurring strikes, corruption, poor remuneration of university staff (both academic and non-academic), ridiculous population of students per departments among many others. Whether we like to admit it or not, the disadvantages of attending a public university outweighs the benefits. Also, students from public universities will, without doubt, pick a private university over public ones while the same cannot be said for private universities students.
Lastly, private university students complain about the many rules, regulations and restrictions that are enforced on them. The strict policy of some of these private universities can be seen as an effort aimed to impose discipline on their students. Public university students on the other hand are seen as unruly, spontaneous, loud and sometimes lack composure when handling certain situations.
In fact, public universities in Nigeria are struggling to provide quality education because of its numerous impediments, endured over the years, are still existing, and will continue to exist till the government finally decides to prioritize by increasing the budgetary allocation that goes into higher education in the country.
Idris Nabila, is a 200 level student of the Department of Mass Communication.