The National Universities Commission (NUC), has given provisional approval to four new private universities to commence academic programmes.
The NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, at the presentation of the licences to the universities in Abuja on Tuesday, disclosed that the four universities had been under scrutiny since 2006.
The universities include: Greenfield University, Kaduna State, Dominion University, Ibadan, Trinity University, Laloko, Ogun, and Westland University, Iwo, Osun.
With the approval, Nigeria now has 79 private universities, and a total of 173 universities, private and public.
Rasheed harped on the need to increase the number of universities in the country, taking into consideration the country’s 200 million population.
According to him, with the country’s population, only about two million students can access university education.
“Only less than 6 per cent students’ enrolment is in private universities.
“We hope the NUC works closely with you to ensure we introduce courses that are more attractive to prospective students and more appropriate to our current move to reposition the education system in Nigeria.
“All over the world, private initiatives are welcome. Proper education cannot be handled by government alone.
“The NUC is not ready to sacrifice quality on the altar of access; we must ensure adherence to quality; we do not want to encourage you to run the university with impunity,” he said.
The Executive Secretary noted that the commission was currently processing about 270 applications in which many of them are active for approval.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who spoke, said the emergence of private universities had provided an environment for heavy competition that stimulates improvement in quality service delivery.
Represented by Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, Registrar, JAMB, the minister said the approval was a clear indication of the continued mutual partnership between the government and private sector to ensure provision of quality education.
He noted that private universities in the country had contributed immensely to the opening up of access to education over the past 20 years.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the provisional licence for the four universities to operate is intended to create room for mentoring and qualitative growth within the first three years of their operations.
“During the probation period, the four universities will be attached to older generation universities for academic and administrative mentoring.
“It should also be noted that substantive licence will only be issued to the universities if they are adjudged of being worthy of it after the three years of probation,’’ he said.
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Dominion University, Bishop Taiwo Adelakun, who spoke on behalf of other beneficiaries, appreciated the commission for the approval and pledged to keep to the mandate for the establishment of the universities.