Why Nigeria Needs More Universities, by NUC Boss

In recent years, the debate over the need for more universities in Nigeria has intensified. On one side, critics argue that the existing institutions are underfunded and poorly managed. On the other, the National Universities Commission (NUC) insists that the country needs more universities to meet the educational demands of its youth. Acting Executive Secretary of the NUC, Chris Maiyaki, has been at the forefront of this debate, defending the establishment of new universities. This article delves into the reasons behind this push, the challenges faced by current institutions, and the future of higher education in Nigeria.

The Current State of Nigerian Universities

Nigeria currently boasts 272 public and private universities. Despite this seemingly large number, only about two million students are enrolled, representing a mere one percent of the population. This statistic underscores the limited capacity of these institutions to accommodate the burgeoning youth population seeking higher education.

Comparative Analysis with Other Countries

To put Nigeria’s situation into perspective, it is essential to compare it with other populous countries like India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, the United States, and Russia. In these countries, university enrollment rates often exceed 25 percent of the population. The low enrollment rate in Nigeria highlights a significant gap in the higher education sector, one that needs urgent attention.

Challenges Faced by Existing Universities

Existing universities in Nigeria grapple with numerous challenges. Funding is a major issue, with many institutions struggling to secure adequate financial resources. This financial strain affects infrastructure development, maintenance, and the overall quality of education. Moreover, outdated curricula and a lack of modern teaching aids further exacerbate the problem.

Arguments Against the Proliferation of Universities

The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been vocal in its opposition to the proliferation of universities. Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, the ASUU president, argues that the focus should be on strengthening existing institutions rather than creating new ones. He points out that the trend has stretched the resources of the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund), diverting much-needed funds from established universities to the new ones. According to Osodeke, this has resulted in “mushroom-glorified high schools” rather than world-class universities.

NUC’s Justification for More Universities

In response, Chris Maiyaki has justified the need for more universities, citing the growing demand for higher education among Nigerian youths. He argues that with only one percent of the population enrolled in universities, there is a clear need for more institutions to accommodate aspiring students. Maiyaki insists that the government will continue to approve new universities to ensure that every Nigerian youth who desires a university education can obtain one.

Strategic Priorities of the NUC

The NUC has identified several strategic priorities to enhance the quality of education in Nigeria. These include:

  • Curriculum Development: Updating curricula to meet modern standards and reflect the aspirations of a knowledge-driven economy.
  • Quality Assurance: Implementing measures to ensure that universities meet specific quality benchmarks.
  • Research and Innovation: Promoting research activities and innovative practices within universities.
  • Infrastructure Development: Improving the physical and technological infrastructure of universities.
  • Information Technology Penetration: Enhancing IT capabilities to support teaching, learning, and administration.
  • Internationalisation: Encouraging global collaborations and partnerships.

Transnational Education (TNE) and International Collaboration

As part of its efforts to improve education quality, the NUC has finalized guidelines on Transnational Education (TNE). This initiative opens doors for foreign educational institutions to participate in Nigeria’s university education landscape. Such collaborations are expected to bring global best practices to Nigerian universities, enhancing their standards.

Improvement of Teaching and Learning Standards

A significant step taken by the NUC is the introduction of the Core Curriculum Minimum Academic Standards (CCMAS). This new curriculum framework expands academic disciplines from 14 to 17, aligning with the needs of the 21st-century knowledge economy. The implementation of CCMAS, effective from the 2023/2024 academic session, aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning.

Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Programes

To further enhance education delivery, the NUC has improved guidelines for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programmes. These guidelines ensure the integration of e-learning with conventional face-to-face teaching methods, promoting flexibility and accessibility in higher education.

Impact on National Development

The establishment of more universities in Nigeria is expected to have a positive impact on national development. By providing more opportunities for higher education, the country can cultivate a more educated workforce, essential for driving economic growth and innovation. Additionally, a higher education enrollment rate can help Nigeria compete globally, positioning it as a hub for knowledge and talent.

Future Outlook for Nigerian Universities

The NUC remains committed to repositioning Nigerian universities for excellence and global competitiveness. By focusing on strategic priorities such as curriculum development, quality assurance, and international collaboration, the commission aims to create a robust higher education system that meets the needs of the nation and the demands of the global economy.


In conclusion, the push for more universities in Nigeria, as advocated by the NUC, is driven by the need to meet the educational aspirations of a growing youth population. While challenges such as funding and quality assurance persist, the strategic initiatives outlined by the NUC offer a roadmap for improving the higher education sector.


1. Why is there a need for more universities in Nigeria? There is a need for more universities in Nigeria to accommodate the growing demand for higher education among Nigerian youths. Currently, only about one percent of the population is enrolled in universities, highlighting a significant gap.

2. How does the NUC plan to improve the quality of education? The NUC plans to improve the quality of education through various strategic initiatives, including curriculum development, quality assurance, research and innovation, infrastructure development, information technology penetration, and internationalisation.

3. What are the challenges facing existing universities? Existing universities in Nigeria face challenges such as inadequate funding, poor infrastructure, outdated curricula, and a lack of modern teaching aids, which affect the overall quality of education.

4. How will the new universities be funded? New universities will be funded through a combination of government allocations, private sector investments, and potentially international partnerships, as outlined in the strategic priorities of the NUC.

5. What is the role of international collaboration in Nigerian university education? International collaboration plays a significant role in enhancing the quality of education in Nigerian universities. Through Transnational Education (TNE) and other partnerships, Nigerian institutions can adopt global best practices and improve their standards.

See: Nigeria Student Loan Program Explained (for Everyone!)

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