Pursuant to the recommendations of the Commission on the Review of Higher Education in Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria has approved guidelines for the establishment of higher institutions of learning in Nigeria. Relevant excerpts contained in the Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) (Amendment Decree No. 9 of 1993 are reproduced here under:-

19A.  An institution of  Higher Education may be sponsored or owned by the Government of the Federation or of a State or Local Government or by any of the following, that is:-

a.  By a Company incorporated in Nigeria: or
b.  By an individual or association of individuals who are citizens of Nigeria, and who satisfy the criteria set out in the Schedule to this Act for establishment of institutions.
19B-(1) Application for the establishment of an institution of higher education shall be made to the Minister:-
a. in the case of a University, through the National Universities Commission:
b. in the case of a Polytechnic or College of Agriculture, through the National Board for Technical Education;
c. in the case of a College of Education, through the National Commission for Colleges of Education; and
d. in any other case, through the Director-General of the Federal Ministry of Education, in accordance with the guidelines prescribed for making the application.

(2) No State, Local Government or tertiary institution shall benefit from the education tax with respect to a tertiary institution unless the application for the establishment of that tertiary institution was made in accordance with the provision of subsection (1) of this section.

(3) No person shall be granted approval to establish an institution of higher education unless the criteria set out in the Schedule to this Act have been satisfied.


(1) The academic structure and spread of discipline of the institution shall be such as would cater for areas of felt needs.

(2) 1. Evidence shall be produced to show that the institution would be provided with adequate:-

        (a) Funding, both Capital and Recurrent;
        (b) Academic and Support Staff.
      2. The proposed staffing guidelines shall meet with current guidelines of :-
        (a) The National Universities Commission; or
        (b) The National Board for Technical Education; or
        (c) The National Commission for Colleges of Education, as the case may be.

(3) The Federal Government must be satisfied that, on approval being given, the sources of funding and necessary funds will be available.

(4) The Federal Government or its accredited agency shall ascertain and be satisfied itself that:-

    (a) The fixed and enabling assets, that is, funds, land, movable and immovable assets, are appropriate for establishing the institution in the light of such factors as:-
             i. The type of institution envisaged,
            ii. Its philosophy and objectives,
           iii. The cost of goods and services prevailing at the time;
      (b) The assets shall be assigned to the institution on approval being given for the institution to be established; and

      (c) That the applicant has supplied a concrete and guaranteed source of financial support for the University to the tune of N200 million, N100 million for Polytechnic or Mono technic, and N50 million for a College of Education, over a period of 5 years.

(5) (1) A proposed institution shall have clearly spelt out master plan for infrastructural and programme development for at least 20 to 25 years which shall make adequate provision for:-

               (a) Plan space, aesthetic beauty and fixed final assets;

              (b) Minimum land area of 100 hectares for a University, 50 hectares for a Polytechnic or Monotechnic and 25 hectares for a College of Education, in a salutary site.
      (2)  The site distance from an urban complex shall take into account availability of municipal services, including water, transportation, private accommodation, communication and other consequential inadequate in its Community.
(6) (1) A proposed institution shall have an adequate environment base and shall be open to all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic derivation, social status, religious or political persuasion.
      (2) Accordingly, its laws and status shall not conflict with the conventional responsibilities in academia or interfere with avowed traditional institutional autonomy.

(7) To pre-empt problems of inadequate municipal facilities, the proposed institution shall have a clear policy on student and staff accommodation and catering services.

(8) The proposed institution shall have a well articulated mission and set of objectives which may be original and innovative but unequivocally in consonance with the socio-economic and political aspirations of Nigeria.

(9) To create and sustain credibility and confidence from the start, the administrative structure of the proposed institution shall not depart too radically from established norms.
(10) The library, laboratory and workshop facilities including instructional tools and consumables, shall be adequate and there shall be long-range plans for sustaining them.
(11) The planning and feasibility report of the proposed institution include proposed contracts and affiliation with existing similar institutions and plans for cooperation and interaction.
(12) The criteria set out in this Schedule shall also apply to a proposed institution which is an Open University except that:-
           (a)The minimum land area requirement shall not apply; and
        (b) Guidelines prescribed by the appropriate authority as regard technical infrastructure for functional and effective operation shall be satisfied.
Application, in writing, stating the intent for the establishment of the University (Step 1)
Interested applicants are expected to apply in writing, to the Executive Secretary, NUC, stating the intent for the establishment of the university. The declaration of intent should include, in brief, the name of the proposed University, the location, the mission and vision, the nature of the proposed university and its proposed focal niche in the current Nigerian University System, etc.

Interview of Promoters to Ascertain their Seriousness (Step 2)
Collection of Application Forms (step 3)
Following due consideration of the application in writing, individuals or corporate bodies seeking to establish a private university are expected to send a representative to come to the Commission with the prescribed payment to collect a set of ten (10) application forms in person. Upon collection of the forms, copies of guidelines and other requirements are also given for proper guidance. Other clarifications are also sought and given as appropriate.
Submission of Application Forms and Relevant Documents (step 4)
The completed application forms are forwarded with a non-refundable processing fee in Bank Draft addressed to NUC along with one or more of the following documents, if ready:

*  Draft Academic Brief;

*  Draft Physical Masterplan;

*  Draft University Law;

*  Counterpart Deed of Assignment;

* Certificate of Incorporation/Registration of Proprietors (accompanied with Articles and Memorandum of Association);

* Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy;

* Letter of Available Liquid Cash; and

* Bank Guarantee of Funds to the tune of N200 Million from a reputable Bank.

It is usually advised that the last two documents should not be procured by the applicant until processing of the application has reached an advanced stage. Submission should also be at the instance of the Directorate of Establishment of Private Universities (DEPU).

Interactive Meeting of DEPU with the proposed university (Step 5)

Normally, DEPU invites the members of the Planning & Implementation Committee of the proposed university to NUC for an interactive meeting as a prelude to the first verification visit to its campus site. During the meeting, the process of documentation and other matters bordering on university governance are discussed and many grey areas are resolved. The meeting also affords the proposed university the opportunity to interact with the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of NUC and his Management team for words of advice and encouragement. Also, a seminar presentation is delivered to avail the prospective Proprietors of the basic philosophy of universities and their societal roles.
Completion of Submission of Outstanding relevant documents (Step 6)
The Proprietors of the private Universities who had submitted part of the relevant documents, are expected to make full submissions at this stage. The relevant documents, include the draft Academic Briefs, draft Masterplan and the draft University Law.
Intensive Review/Analysis of Documents by experts in Relevant NUC Departments (Step 7)
Following submission of the completed application forms and relevant documents, the documents are forwarded to the professional Departments for analysis after which their comments and observations on such documents are sent to the Committee for onward transmission to the proposed university. For instance, Academic Brief and Masterplan documents are forwarded to the Department of Academic Standards. The legal documents such as the University Law, Counterpart Deed of Assignment, Certificate of Incorporation/Registration and Deed of Assignment/Certificate of Occupancy are usually forwarded to the Legal Unit of the Office of the Executive Secretary.
First Verification Visit (Step 8)
DEPU undertakes a verification visit to the proposed university to review their documents with them on one-on-one basis and to assess the level of preparedness in terms of documentation. During this visit, inspection of physical facilities is also undertaken to ascertain their adequacy for the proposed Colleges for the first phase. In addition, courtesy calls are paid to the government establishments that provide infrastructural facilities such as electricity, water and telecommunication including the traditional rulers and local government headquarters of where the proposed university is located. These visits are undertaken to solicit support of the host community for the proposed university and also let them know that a university is being proposed in that area.This visit is considered very important as it reveals whether the Proprietor is committed to the project and is a prerequisite to the final verification visit.
Revision of Documentation by Proprietors based on Report by DEPU of NUC (Step 9)
Following the first visit, the proposed university is expected to revise its documents and undertake the modifications of its facilities to reflect the prescriptions given during the visit. The revised documents are forwarded to NUC for assessment of compliance. If found that progress has been made in that direction, the second (final) verification visit is scheduled to the proposed university.
Second Verification Visit (Step 10)
This is expected to be the final visit to the proposed university, depending on the level of compliance with the given prescriptions. As a result, the documents are reviewed along with the Planning & Implementation Committee with a view to perfecting them as to bring them to an acceptable level. The evidence of available liquid cash documents are inspected and analyzed by the financial expert on the Committee. The Bank Guarantee of Fund to the tune of N200 million will also be sighted along with other legal documents for eventual submission to NUC. Final inspection of physical facilities is also carried out to ascertain whether they are in consonance with the approved NUC norms.
Security Screening of Proprietors and Board of Trustees (Step 11)
The purpose of screening the proprietor (Promoter) and members of Board of Trustees of the proposed universities is to enable the Government to ascertain the credibility of those who are sponsoring the university project and to ensure that they are not persons of questionable character.
Approval By NUC Management (Step 12)
DEPU, on return to NUC from the final verification visit, writes a comprehensive report with scores to the NUC Management for its consideration and further necessary action.
Approval By NUC Board (Step 13)
The NUC Management, upon receipt of DEPU report on the proposed university, considers and makes appropriate recommendation to the University Development Committee (UDC) of the NUC Board for its consideration after which the latter submits it to the Board for ratification. The Board, thereafter, forwards its recommendation to the Federal Government through the Honourable Minister of Education for its consideration and approval.
Approval by Federal Executive Council (Step 14)

The Federal Executive Council considers the recommendations of the NUC Board and Security report on the proposed university’s Promoters. If approved, a three-year Provisional Licence is granted the Proprietor. Only satisfactory performance during the probationary period will earn the Proprietor a substantive License.