Deregulation of University Education in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects

By Adeogun, A. A.; Subair, S. T. et al. | Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Deregulation of University Education in Nigeria: Problems and Prospects


Adeogun, A. A., Subair, S. T., Osifila, G. I., Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy


Introduction

The Government states that the teaching and research functions of higher educational institutions play crucial roles in national development, particularly in high level workforce development. Thus, if education, especially at the university level, is regarded as the vehicle for social and economic transformation, then its provision, administration, and financing should be given greater significance, since the success of any system of education is founded on proper planning and efficient administration.

Also, access to higher education is essentially a social process deeply involved with the society's cultural pattern and system of values (Thresher, 1970). The conditions governing admission into universities must therefore be determined by the existing social, economic, and political realities within the society. In Nigeria, with a population of over 140 million scattered over 36 States and Federal Capital Territory situated at Abuja, finding an equitable formula for admitting all eligible applicants is a challenge.

University Education in Nigeria

Universities all over the world are accepted as the citadel of learning and development of human resources. According to Subair (2008), the entire intellectual and professional life of a country depends on sound higher education, especially university education that provides quality products (graduates) of international standard. The Nigerian university system sprang out of the need for the development of a high level workforce to take the challenge of nation building after independence (Fadipe, 2000).

The history of Nigerian universities dates back to the establishment of the University College, Ibadan in 1948. Since then, inexorable expansion has been one of the most remarkable features of higher education in Nigeria. Forty-five years ago, Nigeria had five universities. Two of these, University College, Ibadan and University of Lagos were federal universities, while the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and University of Nigeria, Nsukka were owned respectively by Northern, Western, and Eastern Regional governments.

According to Aminu (1988) while the Federal Government tried to correct the distortion in geographical distribution of universities by establishing what have come to be regarded as the "second generation" universities in 1975, some states of the federation restored the uneven distribution by establishing state-owned universities. Though it can be argued that while it was not economically viable for some states to establish their own universities at the time they did, the problem of geographical areas served by an institution (catchment areas) and quota system made it imperative for state universities to emerge.

Government acceded to higher demands for more universities in newly-created states; between 1975-2002, the number of public owned universities has increased from six to forty-seven (National Universities Commission (NUC), 2002). As of February 2007, the total universities in Nigeria are 85, out of which 32 are owned by private individuals or organizations. Currently the number of universities has increased to 96. 27 of them are owned by the federal government with 35 and 34 of them belonging to the state governments and private owners respectively (NUC Bulletin 12th October 2009).

The Concept of Deregulation

The term deregulation primarily is an economic term that developed from the free market economy of Adam Smith (Encarta Encyclopedia, 2003 cited in Edobor 2004). Government rules and regulations governing the operation of the system are relaxed or held constant in order for the system to decide its optimum level through competition. The concept means government non-involvement in the establishment, funding, and management of schools. As a deregulated sector, education will become a private enterprise undertaken by private individuals or corporate bodies that hope to maximize profit from their investments in education (Kaplan 2003; Encarta Encyclopedia, 2003). …

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