Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have faulted the federal government’s approval of new private institutions in Nigeria, saying existing ones should be expanded instead.
The federal executive council (FEC) had earlier approved 20 new private varsities, bringing the number of privately-owned tertiary institutions to 99. This followed after a number of polytechnics were similarly created.
During an interview with NAN in Benin, stakeholders claimed nothing justifies the approval when existing varsities were “neither adequately funded nor properly monitored” to ensure compliance with the appropriate guidelines.
Monday Omoregie, chairman of ASUU at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), said that he began to see the approval of more universities as political patronage despite warnings to the relevant authorities on the inherent danger.
He noted that expanding the existing universities would perform the functions the new ones were established to do.
“Education is a social service but these private varsities are established by investors who believe in profit-making. The guideline is that private varsities must be run for 15 years before any plan of making a profit,” Omoregie said.
Monday Igbafen, ASUU chairman at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, also said that approval of more universities without proper recourse to the challenges facing the existing ones is what the union had been trying to criticise.
“They are all just centres where they collect people’s money. That is why most of us are getting worried about the education system in the country. How do you justify the existence of additional universities?” the chairman asked.
“When there is this cry that even the private universities that are running now lack proper monitoring, to see if they comply with the NUC guidelines and what is required to run a university?
“ABU (Ahmadu Bello University) can cater to almost half the population of students we admit in this country, but there is nothing on ground to sustain an ideal university.
“When you carry out an objective assessment of these universities, you discover that they are not really universities.
“They are just there to divert our attention where the rich ones can send their children, whereas they will not be properly trained in terms of developing minds.
“It is all about just dishing out degrees; not necessarily interested in the content and quality of the product. It is just about giving out first class and what is important is to get money.
“I think it’s necessary for FG to reflect on some of all these decisions that they have taken. If we have to advance educational development in this country, it is not through the proliferation of private and public varsities.”
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