• Prof. Friday Ndubuisi is the Vice-Chancellor of Christopher University, a private university located in Mowe, Ogun State. The Professor of Philosophy speaks with MOJEED ALABI of New Telegraph on some pertinent issues in the education system, including the cost of education, admission crisis and proliferation of private universities, among others.

    What is your take on the proliferation of private universities in the country in which some have been described as mushroom universities?

    I want to believe that they mean proliferation by referring to the number of private universities springing up these days in the country. And, if I may ask how, many do we have compared to our population? The entire universities in Nigeria are still less than 170, accommodating less than half of the admission seekers.

    And without the private universities, how many would the federal and state universities have accommodated? I was in the University of Lagos for many years and I know what we went through in terms of admission processes. Last year alone, about 33,000 candidates sat for the Post-UTME at the university and less than 7,000 were eventually offered admission.

    Where did we expect the remaining 26,000 and above to go? As a parent, who would want his or her child to stay at home? Now, the best solution is that the Federal Government must think of subsidising education at the private universities. We should just thank God that private universities were allowed to thrive.

    If not for the private universities, there would have been more serious problems than the insurgency we are currently facing, which the government would have found difficult to resolve. Another UTME will be written soon and I am sure more than one million candidates will take part in the exercise. But where are the spaces? So, approval of private universities is one of the best things that have ever happened to this country.

    And I can boast that if improved conditions are provided for their operation we will all be surprised about the great things these private universities will be achieving in the next 10 to 15 years. One thing we have failed to realise in this country is that the best universities in the world such as the Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge are all private universities.

    When they started, many people mocked them and made jest of them. In New York alone, there are not less than 100 universities. And if you could recall, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Nigerians with American degrees were further examined because we considered their education quality to be inferior compared to what obtained here. But today, some of the worst universities in America will be better rated than our best universities in Nigeria. The same thing applies to India. There are more than 1,000 universities in India.

    Recently, the Vice-Chancellor of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin in Ondo State said the new generation professors in the country are being appointed through compromised rules. Could that be true?

    That may not be correct, because before you become a Professor the standard is clear. For instance, there are many Senior Lecturers at the University of Lagos, who could not be made professors because there is yet no provision for it in the establishment. The process of becoming a professor is very rigorous and tedious as well.

    In UNILAG, in fact, some of the books some of the lecturers published are thrown away because they also consider the publishers of the books and publications. Before you are promoted Associate Professor, you cannot have less than 18 publications and must have published in reputable international journals. Before a lecturer could begin to aspire to be elevated a full professor, he must have at least between 22 and 24 publications.

    These papers are properly vetted and in the process of vetting, many are simply eliminated. You can visit those universities in Ghana and see what they have and compare with what we have in this country. One of my colleagues went for accreditation of courses at a university in Ghana and the entire Engineering Faculty had about three professors. That i s what we talk about in just a department of our Engineering Faculty here.

    Still on standard, if the quality is high why are Nigerian universities still poorly ranked globally and in Africa?

    When you talk about ranking, it has to be discussed in relation to national economy. When national economy is bad, no academic rating can favour a country. How can you perform excellently well in a country where foreign investment is not thriving, where local currency on daily basis crashes, where power and other basic infrastructure are luxury items.


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