Proliferation of varsities in Nigeria is an embarrassment, says TETFUND Boss
The Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), Professor Suleiman Bogoro has described as ‘embarrassment,’ the proliferation of tertiary institutions in the country.
Bagoro made this known during an interaction with journalists in Abuja yesterday. He stated that rather build more institutions, government at all levels and individuals should focus on quality outputs and effectiveness of the existing schools.
According to him, Nigeria presently has a total of 174 universities, with 43 being Federal Universities, 52 belong to state governments, while 79 are privately owned.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) had recently revealed that it was processing applications for 303 new private universities.
The TETFUND boss, however, decried the development, saying: “We have to apply some break to the embarrassing issue of proliferation of institutions at all level, both federal and state. Yes, many places, regions want universities established but that does not solve the problem.
“In Egypt, for instance, one university has a population of half a million. So, it is the effectiveness and infrastructure of those universities, not the number of the schools that only reduce the standard and quality.”
Commenting on calls to the Federal Government to start funding private institutions, Bagoro explained that there is no justification for that, stressing that this is due to the fact that private tertiary institutions have lower population of students compared to public institutions.
“Private universities have never solved our problems as much; the number of private and public universities are about equal. One and the half years ago, private universities had outnumbered public universities but by early this year, because of the licenses given out to some public institutions, they have outnumbered the private.
“The public institutions have 94 per cent of Nigerian students while the remaining six per cent are in private institutions. The truth is majority of Nigerian students cannot afford private varsities. That is why the TETFUND law that emphasis public institutions makes a lot of sense.”
On the issue of stranded lecturers abroad, the TETFUND boss disclosed that the board has concluded plans to send funds directly to the lecturers. He, however, stated that it is no longer possible for lecturers to attend low-ranking universities abroad for their postgraduates training.
According to him a standard has been prescribed. “No lecturer on government funding should go to institutions in lower standard than that of the Nigeria schools.
“When I came on board, we have a huge number of stranded scholars, we decided to be sending their tuition fees directly to them, not more through the Nigerian institutions and they are excited as they appreciated the decision. We have treated over 1000 of such cases,” he stated.
Bagoro further stated that in an attempt to promote excellence in the varsity, the agency would shift its focus to encouraging research through the establishment of National Research and Development Foundation.
He, however, said the agency would continue to intervene in the area of developing more infrastructures, especially building of hostels to reduce over congestion.
“We are focusing on hostels which is another area of embarrassment. The NUC had said only 15 per cent of Nigerian universities students are in the hostel. That is an embarrassment. With that, we cannot attract scholars from other countries if there is no accommodation.
“Our students are living with criminals because there are no hostels because these hostels are over congested.”
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