The National Universities Commission (NUC) has issued provisional licences to four new private universities following Federal Executive Council’s approval for establishment of the universities during its meeting on 9 January, 2019.

The new universities were Greenfield University; Kasarami, Kaduna, Kaduna State; Dominion University, Ibadan, Oyo State; Trinity University, Laloko, Ogun State and Westland University, Iwo, Osun State. The official presentation of licences to the four universities was held last Tuesday, at the NUC Secretariat.

In his address at the presentation ceremony, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who was represented by the Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Is-haq Oloyede appreciated the role of private investors towards the development of university education in Nigeria, noting that it was a clear manifestation of the continued partnership between them and government in the provision of quality university education in Nigeria. He said that private universities had over the last 20 years contributed in opening access for the growing population of candidates seeking university education with their emergence also creating healthy competition and stimulating quality service delivery in the system.

The Minister pointed out that the new universities would be attached to older universities, for administrative mentoring, moderated by NUC. This, he said, would create room for effective mentoring and qualitative growth within three years of their operations before substantive license would be issued after been adjudged as been well governed during the probation period.

He charged the mentoring institutions to effectively advise and guide the new universities  on issues relating to appointment of the Governing Councils; recruitment of principal officers, academic and administrative staff; availability of human and material resources for commencement of any academic programme; implementation of carrying capacity; assistance on staff development; moderation of students’ examination and results; general quality assurance activities and moderation of admissions and external examinations.

Malam Adamu Adamu applauded NUC for its unrelenting efforts in ensuring standard university education and for the continued review and update of mentoring mechanisms in order to ensure that basic quality assurance standards were complied with in the establishment and operations of private universities in Nigeria. He also commended Professor Rasheed for the new innovations and efforts towards improving the university sub-sector.

He urged the Universities to work hard to ensure highest standards through adoption of best practices in order to achieve academic excellence in their programme focus, pledging that government was committed to strengthening NUC operations for better university education.

He charged stakeholders in the education sector to put all hands on deck towards improving quality service delivery including strategies for quality improvement and elimination of social vices as well as maintenance of industrial peace and harmony towards sustainable growth in the sector.

In his speech, the Executive Secretary, NUC, Professor Abubakar Rasheed, stated that all the newly approved universities had gone through stringent assessments leading to the final approval by the Federal Executive Council, having certified the 11 requirements and the 14-steps, for the establishment of Private universities.

He lauded the decision of the proprietors to invest in Nigerian University System (NUS), describing the initiative as part of efforts towards expanding and providing access to university education in Nigeria. He disclosed that the new universities were joining the largest university system in Africa in terms of number and enrolment, comprising 43 Federal, 48 State and 79 Private universities, translating into 170 universities in Nigeria. He emphasised the need for more private initiatives, as efforts must be made to enhance access.

He expressed dismay that despite the growing number of universities in the NUS, every year, a large number of qualified candidates seeking for university education could not be absorbed due to limited carrying capacity of the existing universities.

He said that out of over 1 million candidates seeking for university education annually, only 5.6 percent were enrolled in private universities. According to him, this calls for extra work to make private universities more attractive to prospective students through repositioning of the NUS.

He however, reiterated that the Commission was not ready to sacrifice quality on the altar of access, which, he said, had necessitated beaming the searchlight on operations of private universities to ensure strict adherence to best practices in the delivery of education.

Professor Rasheed further stated that the present knowledge-economy required more education-oriented population that would work for the progress and development of the society, which, he said, could only be achieved through expansion of access and provision of quality university education. He said like the rest of the world, proper education could not be handled by government alone and that private universities had continued to bridge the gap in the system.

He advised the proprietors to promote freedom of speech in their respective institutions, cautioning that the Commission would not play down on any form of misconduct or extension of unnecessary private influences and religious interferences in the administration of the universities.

The Director, Establishment of Private Universities, NUC, Malam Abdullahi Hamza expressed appreciation to FEC for approval of the universities and the Federal Ministry of Education (FME), for the continued support to the Commission in exercising its regulatory mandates, especially on matters relating to access. He assured that the Commission would continue to subscribe to the Ministry’s supervision.

The Director also commended the remarkable revolution and transformation in the NUS under Professor Rasheed, stating that the positive and radical changes embarked upon by the Executive Secretary were responsible for the recent increase in number of private universities licensed in the past few years. NUC Management, he said, deserved applause for the meticulous exercise in ensuring that quality and standard were maintained and complied with in the process of assessing the forms and available facilities for the universities to take-off.

He thanked the proprietors for giving back to the society through investing their huge resources for the development of university education and other stakeholders for their contributions to making the event a reality.

Responding on behalf of the promoters of the new universities, the Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dominion University, Bishop T. B. Adelakun, thanked NUC for painstakingly nurturing and guiding the universities through the required stages and bringing them to reality.

He said that without education, there would be no hope for meaningful achievement, stressing that the new universities were committed to excelling in their vision of producing godly intellectuals who would be nation builders and to humanity.

He assured that the universities would continue to operate under the guidance of NUC and keep to the laid down regulations in the university system. He noted that the four universities had agreed to form a network for collaboration to ensure growth of the various universities. He thanked the government for giving them the opportunity to contribute towards university education development in Nigeria.

The profiles of the universities indicated that the proprietor of Greenfield university is Imperial Schools Ltd, Kaduna, (to be mentored by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria); the proprietor of Dominion University is Rehoboth Cathedral Victory International Church, (mentorship by University of Ibadan); the proprietor of Trinity University is Trinity Education and Development Foundation, (mentoring by University of Lagos, Akoka Yaba) and the proprietor of Westland University is Wolex Adepoju Nigeria Ltd, (to be mentored by Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife).