With the public tertiary education system facing many challenges, a growing number of wealthy Nigerians have invested in university education to provide quality learning infrastructure – a development
For over 10 years, some business tycoons and politicians, among others, have financed the establishment of higher institutions in Nigeria.
They include Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, Afe Babalola, Micheal Ade-Ojo, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, Atiku Abubakar, Bola Ajibola, Michael and Cecilia Ibru, Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida and Atiku Abubakar.
Recently, Herbert Wigwe, a seasoned banker and entrepreneur, launched Wigwe University, an African institution that seeks to grow the next generation of leaders who will change the face of the continent.
The foray of wealthy Nigerians into the education business is helping to improve the tertiary educational system in Nigeria and reducing foreign exchange pressure as some Nigerians who would have studied abroad are doing so in the country owing to the quality education provided by the universities.
Many of these universities can boast of quality infrastructure, conducive learning environment, and quality teachers, among others.
This is demonstrated in the recent Times Higher Education announcement of Covenant University, a privately owned institution, as the highest ranked in Nigeria in its World University rankings for 2024, encompassing 1,904 universities from 108 countries.
Times Higher Education said: “The ranking table was constructed based on the newly introduced WUR 3.0 methodology, which meticulously assesses an institution’s performance in five key areas: teaching, research environment, research quality, industry engagement, and international outlook.”
A breakdown of the ranking showed that Covenant University is placed within the global 801-1000 range, which is among the best 1,000 universities in the world, and the best-ranked tertiary institution from Nigeria on the table.
Isaiah Ogundele, an educationist, said the government alone cannot manage or sustain quality education as a result of a shortage of funds to do research. He also cited the surging population as a reason the country cannot rely on public universities alone.
However, Ogundele warned that there is a great need for monitoring and regulation to avoid nurturing substandard institutions.
“If the government did not take drastic steps to regulate the tertiary institutions in Nigeria. It will give room for these so-called glorified secondary schools called private universities,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong. Some of the private universities are okay but the majority are substandard,” he added.
As of today, Nigeria has 147 private universities, and 37 new ones have been licensed so far in 2023.
The early generation universities that came into existence after the promulgation of Decree 9 of 1993 are Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State; Afe Babalola University; Elizade University; Baze University, Abuja; Crescent University, and Michael and Cecilia Ibru University, among others.
Those owned by religious groups imclude Babcock University, Ilishan, Ogun State; Madonna University, Okija, Imo State; and Ajayi Crowther University; Anchor University; Bingham University; Benson Idahosa University; Covenant University, Ota in Ogun State; and Redeemers’ University of Nigeria.
Bell University in Ota; the American University of Nigeria in Yola, Adamawa State; and Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University in Niger State are owned by ex-military leaders and politicians.
Experts believe that university education plays a vital role in providing high-level manpower for the development of any nation.
Research has shown that the list of Nigerian students granted sponsored study visas by the United Kingdom continues to surge as public universities rot.
There is a noticeable increase in the number of Nigerians seeking education tourism abroad every year, and this is in a way a pointer to the declining standard of education.
The data from the British government shows that the number rose from 6,798 in 2019 to 59,053 in 2022 which amounts to a 768.7 percent difference.
According to the Universities UK report, on average, international students in the 2021/22 cohort make a £58 million net economic contribution to the UK economy per constituency. This is equivalent to £560 per member of the resident population.