Private Universities and Development of Higher Education in Nigeria: A Mixed Methods Approach

By Suleiman, Yusuf; Hanafi, Zahyah Bt et al. | The Qualitative Report, July 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Private Universities and Development of Higher Education in Nigeria: A Mixed Methods Approach


Suleiman, Yusuf, Hanafi, Zahyah Bt, Tanslikhan, Muhajir, The Qualitative Report


Private university education is unarguably one of the growing trends in the education system in the world. Providing university education to citizens should not be the solitary efforts of government, but should be the responsibility of adults at all levels. The giant stride of private investment in the acceleration of university education in Nigeria is overwhelming. This paper examines the private university's contribution to the development of university education in Nigeria, focusing on the strengths, weaknesses and way forward. Basically, the purpose of the study is to highlight the areas where private universities had contributed to the advancement of university education. It carefully looked at the historical background, rationale and antagonists of private universities. Also, the paper examined the global trends of private universities. Methodologically, mixed methods approach was used for the study. Quantitatively, secondary data were collected and analyzed to establish the areas in which private universities contributes to the development of higher education in Nigeria. Qualitatively, interviews were conducted in two private universities, where teaching and non-teaching staff of the universities granted the interview. NVivo Software was used to do the transcription, coding and analysis of the interview. Findings from the two methods employed revealed that the importance of private universities cannot be under-estimated, it is akin to the advancement of university education in Nigeria. Conclusively, the activities of private universities would continue to play a positive role in ensuring that Nigerian university education is placed among the developed countries. Significantly, the study would assist private universities on how to improve their efforts for a better private university education so as to ensure quality service. Also, government should endeavour to assist private universities in the area of staff capacity building and infrastructure. Lastly, enabling environment should be provided by the government for more private investors to establish more universities in Nigeria. Keywords: Private Universities, Development, Higher Education, Mixed Methods Approach, Nigeria

Globally, education is seen as a way of enlightening people in the society, it's a concept that is considered as the foundation to a successful life. Investing in education has unique returns (financial and non-financial) to the investors. It is believed that returns in education cannot be quantified in all ramifications. Also, it's a bedrock to the development of any nation that desires to be ranked as one of the developed nations in the world (Akpotu & Akpochafo, 2009; Psacharopoulos, 2014).

University education remains an integral part of the development of manpower in the country. The neglect of this tier of education could cause an irredeemable problem to the society. It produces the man power for the economy of the country. Acquiring university education seems to make an individual to be self-reliant and contributes positively to the development of the society (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004; Mundy & Menashy, 2014). The funding of the education system is the responsibility of any focused government, most especially the university education which is seen as the apex of education universally. The funding of this level of education cannot be solely funded by the government if it is to achieve the aims and objectives of which it is established. The involvement of private and individual to the acceleration of university education has been in the public domain for decades. It becomes necessary due to the debate about the need for private to invest in the education system. The advocate for private investment came in different ways. Whether it should be completely handed over to private has been a long-time controversy globally (Riggan, 2012).

According to Kitaev (2003), private investment in education has become a popular policy in developing countries, namely, France, Britain, Germany, Spain, Singapore, Russia, Canada, Australia, Italy, China, Japan, etc. …

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